he Howard Bison have ended their conference championship drought after defeating Norfolk State 65-64 to claim the MEAC crown and punch their ticket to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1992.
In addition, the Bison also ended the hopes of the Spartans who were playing for a MEAC championship three-peat.
Jelani Williams was the only player for the Bison to score in double figures, finishing with 20 points and adding six rebounds.
Elijah Hawkins, Shy Odom, and Steve Settle III each finished with nine points.
Norfolk State was led by Dana Tate Jr. who finished with 19 points and seven rebounds followed by Joe Bryant Jr. who had 18 points, five rebounds, and five steals.
This was a back-and-forth game the entire way with neither team leading by more than six points.
Foul trouble plagued the Spartans for much of this game with Kris Bankston — their leading rebounder and second-leading scorer — notably committing two in the first five minutes and unable to make a proper impact in the first half.
Meanwhile, Howard was unable to take advantage of Norfolk State’s misfortunes due in part to being unable to take care of the ball.
The Bison committed six turnovers in the first half (ending the game with 16) equaling the Spartans’ total for the game.
Despite both teams’ struggles, they remained in the game battling adversity and trading the lead for most of the second half.
It was a sequence in the final seconds of the second half that turned the game in the Bison’s favor on their way to victory.
With 13 seconds left and the Bison down by four, Marcus Dockery, who struggled with his shot for most of the game, knocked down his only three-pointer in the game to cut the deficit to just one.
Following a timeout, a miscommunication on an inbound pass led to a Norfolk State turnover. Howard took advantage with Williams forcing a foul and knocking down both free throws.
The Spartans had one more chance to score and put themselves back in front but Bankston was unable to convert on a desperation shot attempt.
Howard will now await NCAA Selection Sunday where they will learn their seeding and opponent.