Howard boys basketball coach Chris DiMascio told his players that Tuesday’s game against No. 1 A.I. du Pont would start off sloppy.
His hunch proved to be correct; however, the fourth-ranked Wildcats (11-1) settled down to top the Tigers 84-72 in a high-energy battle.
“They’re excited, but I think we know that’s not our overall best,” said DiMascio. “For me, I’m more excited because it was a playoff-style game that we were able to win.”
The nerves showed early with plenty of turnovers and missed shots.
The Tigers edged the Wildcats (10-1) 12-11 in the first quarter, but going into the half Howard’s Gjaimeir Stanford lit up and led his team with 13 points and three 3-pointers to lift his team to a 34-30 lead.
“It feels good,” said Stanford, who finished with 29 points and hit four 3-pointers. “We just got the little jitters out, then after that it was ballgame.”
Howard has won six straight games.
The Tigers, who went 12 days without a game, could not find the basket late down the stretch as they were outscored 27-21 in the final quarter. A.I.’s Vadil Long helped his team off the bench with 17 points.
“I felt like we had a lot of open looks, and there must have been a lid on the basket because nothing was going in. We had second, third tries and nothing was falling,” said Tigers coach Tom Tabb.