Hampton, VA—James "J-Byrd" Daniel, III returned home determined to snap the Hampton jinx over his team, pouring in a game-high 35 points, including a potential game-winning basket with 10 seconds remaining.
But it was not to be and a three-point play by Dionte Adams with four seconds remaining that proved to be the difference as Hampton outlasted Howard, 68-67 in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference men's game at the Hampton Convocation Center.
A 5-10 junior guard from nearby Phoebus High School, Daniel did all he could to make sure that his Bison would snap the Hampton 13-game win streak. His 19 first half points gave Howard (11-18, 5-9 in the MEAC) a 36-23 halftime advantage.
In the second half, Hampton (17-9, 12-2 in the MEAC) put together a 19-6 run to take a 42-40 lead on a Lawrence Cooks three pointer at the 12:19 mark.
With the momentum on their side, the Pirates took control, 53-46 on the scoring of Reginald Johnson, Jr., Cooks and Adams, who combined for 34 of Hampton's 45 second half points.
That is when Daniel put his team on his back and willed them back in the game, scoring his team's last 11 points.
"He was the best player on the floor," said a disappointed Howard head coach Kevin Nickelberry. "He gave us a chance to win. If there was any doubt about who is the best player in this league, it was answered tonight. It was a disappointing loss, no question about it, but his effort gave us a chance to win."
Daniel, the nation's leading scorer at 28.7 points per game, put on a show for the opposing crowd, knocking down three pointers from another area code and tough pull up floaters over outstretched hands.
But his best may have been his conventional three-point play that tied the score at 65 with 57 seconds remaining.
Following a steal by the Bison, Daniel pushed the ball up the floor and used a slick move where he faked the defender into thinking that he was going to pull up for the jumper, only to stutter step, freeze the defender, score the basket and draw the foul against a flustered Hampton defender.
Following a Hampton timeout, the Pirates went to the most unlikely of players in Adams and he delivered after finding a small crease in the Bison defense and drawing the foul.
"The plan was to make sure that Johnson and Chievous were not going to beat us," said Nickelberry. "It was like Ground Hog Day. It was the second straight against time that a role player has beaten us. In the first game, it was Cooks who hit the three pointer. This time it was Adams. That is what veteran teams do. They find ways to make the plays that count. We just have to learn from this and get ready for Norfolk."
Daniel hit on 12 of 25 from the field and 6 of 11 from beyond the arc for his points. Tyler Stone and Marcel Boyd each tallied 8 points, but they combined for 26 rebounds and 4 blocks.
Hampton was led by Johnson with 18, Cooks with 14, Adams with 12 and Quinton Chievous with 11 rebounds.
NEXT UP: The Bison close out the regular season when they travel to Norfolk, VA to take on the Spartans of Norfolk State at 7:30 pm