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Howard (0-4) vs. Western Carolina (1-4)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Wednesday, November 21, 1:30 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Moon Palace Resort (990) -- Cancun, Mexico. Television: None. Home Record: Howard 0-1, WCU 1-0. Away Record: Howard 0-2, WCU 0-3. Neutral Record: Howard 0-1, WCU 0-1. Conference Record: Howard 0-0, WCU 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.

GAME NOTES: The Howard Bison will try to pick up their first win of the season when they face the Western Carolina Catamounts in the Mayan Division third place game of the Cancun Challenge.

The Bison's early season woes continued on Tuesday as they were handed their fourth consecutive loss to start their 2012-2013 campaign. Howard turned the ball over 19 times and went 0-of-7 from beyond the arc as it fell, 55-43, to Gardner-Webb in the first round. Coach Kevin Nickelberry's squad is without a win still despite facing a Division II opponent in its season opener. The Bison did not defeat a Division I opponent until Nov. 26 last season and went on to finish with a 10-21 overall record.

Western Carolina seemed to be in control of its first round matchup versus Austin Peay. A strong defensive effort held the Governors to 37.5 percent shooting in the first half and gave WCU a 12-point lead at the intermission. The Catamounts watched their double-digit lead slip through their fingers as APSU shot a sizzling 14-of-20 from the floor after the break. Western is now 1-4 with its lone victory coming over Division II Mars Hill. Although they lost in the first round on Tuesday, the Catamounts were right there at the end and have plenty to build upon.

Howard's losing streak is purely due to its inability to operate on the offensive end. The team has scored just 43 ppg in its three games versus Division I competition. Although Gardner-Webb is a decent team defensively, the Bison should have been able to score more than 43 points. Alphonso Leary was the lone bright spot in the lineup with team-highs of 15 points and six rebounds. Simuel Frazier was active on the defensive end as he collected seven steals, but his efforts ended up being a wash after he turned it over seven times. The biggest red flag for Nickelberry's team is its poor assist totals. The Bison finished with four assists as a team, while GWU's Donta Harper dished out six by himself.

WCU's offense is much more fluid than that of its third-place game opponent. The Catamounts have been produced 74.2 ppg through their first five games. However, the Catamounts had an off-shooting night from three-point range (6- of-23) and the charity stripe (3-of-8) in their one-point loss on Tuesday. WCU played well otherwise as it held a 37-34 advantage in the rebounding battle and dealt out 18 assists to just 10 turnovers. Trey Sumler continued his hot start with a team-best 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting. The junior guard has scored in double figures in all five games this season and made 47 percent or more of his field goal attempts in the last four. Preston Ross heating up to Sumler's level. The junior forward poured in 19 points on Saturday versus Western Kentucky before posting 14 points and nine rebounds versus APSU. Although his last rebound and two points came on a meaningless tip-back at the buzzer, Tawaski King continued to be a strong contributor on both ends with 12 points and seven boards.

Howard was outplayed in every aspect of the game on Tuesday. There is no magical overnight cure for a performance that poor. The Catamounts should cruise to a victory, while the Bison search for answers.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Carolina 68, Howard 54

11/21 10:33:17 ET


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