Howard Basketball

View from the Hilltop: Boyd carries Howard into MEAC semifinals

After a disappointing regular season, center is dominant in win over Morgan State

He began the season as a preseason All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) first team selection, but Howard center Marcel Boyd never dominated games as expected.

That is, until Thursday night’s quarterfinals of the MEAC men’s basketball tournament in Norfolk, Virginia.

Boyd scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as No. 11 seed Howard defeated No. 3 Morgan State, 68-65, in the biggest shocker so far in the tournament. Howard advances to Friday night’s semifinal against No. 2 Norfolk State.

It was the first double-double of the season for Boyd, which is especially surprising because he had 11 during a huge junior season when he averaged 10.4 points and 9.9 rebounds a game. Boyd proved to be the player most affected by the loss of James Daniel, the nation’s leading scorer a year ago, who injured his ankle before the start of this season and appeared in only two games. Daniel’s outside shooting and ability to drive the lane had helped free up the inside for the 6-foot-10 senior from Accokeek, Maryland.

Boyd led a balanced attack for Howard as Damon Collins and Charles Williams each scored 14 (Collins also grabbed eight rebounds), and James Miller had seven points and seven rebounds before fouling out.

Late heroics came from Solomon Mangham, who hit a key 3-pointer from the right corner as the two teams exchanged leads in the final minutes, and Kofi Andoh, who hit three of four free throws in the final 13 seconds.

“We’re one game away from reaching the championship,” Howard coach Kevin Nickelberry said. “Even as we struggled this season, we continued to believe in us.”

The Bison (10-23) are hoping that Thursday night’s game awakened a sleeping giant. From the standpoint of sheer talent, Boyd is capable of being as good a big man as the MEAC has seen in years. Before the season, Nickelberry even compared him to Kyle O’Quinn, the former Norfolk State standout who was an NBA second-round pick in 2012 and currently plays for the New York Knicks.

But Boyd appeared to lose confidence as the Bison struggled this season. Over the last month, he lost minutes to backup center Tyler Stone.

“My roommate Cameron Lewis encouraged me to play looser,” Boyd said. “He said that as a senior, I need to play stronger and have fun and not worry about mistakes.”