The Howard College women's basketball team ended its season on a winning note, but the Hawks needed every second on the clock to do it.
Senior guard Kali Jerrell hit two free throws with no time remaining to give Howard a 61-59 victory over Frank Phillips College in the regular-season finale for both teams at Garrett Coliseum Thursday evening.
In Thursday's nightcap, the Howard men's team needed no such late heroics as it tuned up for the upcoming Region V Tournament with a 75-54 win over Frank Phillips.
The Howard women finished the regular season with a 19-11 record, while the men improved to 21-7.
Someone forgot to tell Frank Phillips it hadn't won a conference game in two years.
The Lady Plainsmen, coached by former Howard assistant Eric Rodewald, didn't have the size to compete with Howard inside, so they didn't even try. Instead, they unleashed a flurry of three-pointers that twice erased double digit deficits and came within a tick of the clock of forcing overtime. Frank Phillips ended the evening with more three-pointers (13) than two-point goals (nine).
Considering the Hawks were coming off an emotional upset of Western Junior College Athletic Conference leader New Mexico Junior College, Howard Coach Earl Diddle suggested another possible reason for Thursday's close outcome.
“I thought we had a little bit of a letdown,” Diddle said. “That's not an excuse — Frank Phillips played a great game. They may have come into this game with an 0-11 (conference) record, but they played really well the past two or three games. They just don't have the post play they need to win.”
Howard appeared to have the game firmly in hand when Jarrell's jumper with 16:16 remaining gave the Hawks a 40-23 lead, but Frank Phillips' outside shooters had different ideas.
The Lady Plainsmen responded by outscoring Howard 26-8 over the course of the next nine minutes to tie the game at 48-all, and eventually grabbed a 56-53 lead on a Kinjita Kelley three-pointer with 3:36 left in the game.
Jerrell and Porsche Young — who led all scorers with 18 points — sandwiched three-pointers around a trey from Kelley to tie the game at 59-59, which was the score when Howard got the ball back for its final possession with four seconds remaining.
Jerrell took the inbounds passed and hurried upcourt, getting off an off-balance jumper just as the final buzzyer sounded. However, the Austin sophomore was fouled and calmly sank both free throws to seal the victory.
“I was proud of the team,” Diddle said. “They could have folded. This was a grinder game, and we haven't had a lot of luck in those types of games this season, but we found a way to win tonight.”
FRANK PHILLIPS (59) — Shardena Hudson 3 0-0 8; LaChrista Nash 5 2-6 14; Laura Martinez 3 0-0 9; Nancy Castillo 1 0-0 3; Shay O'Neal 4 0-0 9; Kinjita Kelley 6 0-0 16; totals 22 2-6 59.
HOWARD (61) — Porsche Young 7 0-0 18; Kali Jerrell 5 5-6 17; Tori Tucker 4 0-0 8; Zeslie Johnson 5 2-2 12; Kelli Merrick 1 0-0 2; Carolyn Taylor 1 0-1 2; Ja'Keyma Williams 1 0-0 2; totals 24 7-9 61.
Halftime — Howard 31, Frank Phillips 23; Three-point goals — Frank Phillips 13 (Hudson 2, Nash 2, Martinez 3, Castillo, O'Neal, Kelley 4), Howard 6 (Young 4, Jerrell 2); Total fouls — Frank Phillips 10, Howard 11; Fouled out — none.
Frank Phillips' men's team took a page from the women's squad and used three-pointers to make things interesting for awhile Thursday night. But Howard squelched the potential rally with some long-range bombs of its own.
The Hawks dominated the first half, leading by 22 points at intermission, before FPC opened the second half with a barrage of three-pointers to eventually cut the lead to six points with 11:02 remaining.
At that point, however, Howard apparently decided enough was enough. Shavon Coleman, who led all scorers with 20 points, hit a three-pointer from the left corner to jump-start a 28-8 run that ended with the Hawks comfortably in control with a 73-47 lead with 2:41 remaining.
That brief lapse in the second half, however, was what Howard Coach Mark Adams focused on during his post-game comments.
“Those first few minutes of the second half, I thought we played very poorly,” Adams said. “It's unfortunate this late in the season to be so up and down on both ends of the floor.”
Another area of concern for Howard was the health of shooting guard Jacob Thomas, who has battled foot problems for the past two years and was limited to only seven points Thursday.
“His foot started acting up again,” Adams said, “so we wanted to play him sparingly (Thursday).”
But Adams was not all doom and gloom in his assessment of the team's efforts.
“Shavon had a tremendous game,” Adams said. “And (point guard) Jerry Dixon had a very solid game for us.”
The Hawks have a week off before opening play in the Region V tournament against Weatherford College Thursday. The tournament will be played at the Rip Griffin Center on the Lubbock Christian University campus.
FRANK PHILLIPS (54) James Boonstoppel 2 0-0 6; Ronald Scott 6 2-2 18; Akeem Johnson 6 0-0 14; Rodshard Davis 4 1-1 11; Ben Murphy 1 0-0 3; Demetris Lafontant 0 2-2 2; Mike Evans 0 0-2 0; totals 19 5-7 54.
HOWARD (75) — Jerry Dixon 2 0-0 6; Leon Cooper 1 0-0 2; Rico Richardson 5 0-0 14; Jacob Thomas 3 0-0 7; Calvin Godfrey 4 2-3 10; Phillip Miller 1 2-2 4; Shavon Coleman 8 1-1 20; Damion McGee 4 2-3 10; Marsalis Stewart 1 0-0 2; totals 30 5-6 75.
Halftime — Howard 39, Frank Phillips 17; Three-point goals — Frank Phillips 11 (Boonstoppel 2, Scott 4, Johnson 2, Davis 2, Murphy), Howard 10 (Dixon 2, Richardson 4, Thomas, Coleman 3); Total fouls — Frank Phillips 9, Howard 14; Fouled out — none.