Daniel Dominates as Bison Blow Past Hawks

Published on January 24th, 2014

David Sturdivant

Freshman James Daniel drives to the basket against UMES freshman Mark Blackmon

James “J-Bird” Daniel put on a show in Howard’s 88-55 rout over University of Maryland Eastern Shore (2-14, 0-4 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) last Saturday in Burr Gymnasium.

The highly touted freshman earned Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Rookie of the Week and College Sports Madness MEAC Player of the Week honors as he shot 9-of-9 from the charity stripe, 9-of-18 from the field and 6-of-12 from the three-point line, scoring a career-high 33 points.

“My teammates did a great job of finding me in good spots,” said Daniel. “I got some good looks and shots were falling.”

Fueled by Daniel and a tenacious Howard (4-15, 2-2) zone defense, the Bison garnered their first win in over a month as the men defeated University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) for the third consecutive time.

The Hawks’ only lead came within the first three minutes of play and from there, Daniel and his counterparts started to pull away as the Bison went on an 18-3 run midway through the first half.

Daniel kept defenders at bay with a killer crossover and layup during the half that erupted the home crowd and extended Howard’s lead to 20.

“The move was something me and Keon [Hill] worked on in practice,” Daniel said. “It was nice to actually execute it in the game.”

After scoring 54 total points in the loss against Savannah State a game before, Howard went into the locker room up 52-24 at halftime with every ounce of momentum.

The Bison prevented any second half surges as the lead continued to swell despite the Hawks’ outscoring three of their last six opponents in the second stanza.

With 5:26 remaining, Daniel pulled back and scored a three-pointer to extend Howard’s lead to 35.

“[Daniel] can just take over a game and his range is unbelievable,” said head coach Kevin Nickelberry. “He’s an outstanding young talent and is really starting to get into his zone.”

Kyree Jones led the Hawks with 13 points and would be the only UMES player in double figures as a valiant defensive effort by the Bison forced the Hawks to shoot 7 of 25 from the field in the first half and 37 percent in the game.

“We’re going to play tough defense. That’s non-negotiable for this team,” Nickelberry said. “If we can defend and make free throws, we can be a dangerous team.”

Howard not only defended well by forcing a 25 to 7 differential in points off turnovers, but also remained efficient from the free throw line by shooting above 80 percent.

Forward Prince Okoroh contributed with 19 points and six rebounds to also help lead the Bison to their second conference win of the season.

Howard will travel to Florida and face MEAC opponents Florida A&M (3-2, 7-11) this Saturday at 6:00 p.m. and Bethune-Cookman (2-19, 0-6) on Monday at 7:30 p.m.

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