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Howard downs Delaware State 70-67 for MEAC crown and 2nd consecutive trip to NCAA tourney

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — Jordan Hairston scored 18 points and Bryce Harris and Seth Towns each scored 16 points and Howard beat Delaware State 70-67 on Saturday in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament championship to secure an NCAA Tournament bid.

Harris' jump shot broke a 60-all tie with 4:18 remaining and the Bison led for the remainder but not without late drama.

Hairston made two free throws with six seconds left for a 70-66 lead. Off the inbounds, Delaware State's Deywilk Tavarez dribbled at a full sprint up the floor and with 2.2 seconds launched a 3-point attempt and was fouled by Jelani Williams.

Tavarez made the first foul shot, missed the second, and his attempt to deliberately miss the third for a desperation rebound and 3-point heave attempt failed when his shot attempt ricocheted off the backboard and failed to touch the rim. Howard inbounded to end the game.

Marcus Dockery scored 15 points for fourth-seeded Howard (18-16), which is headed to the NCAA Tournament for a second straight year for the first time in school history. Howard upset top-seeded Norfolk State on its way to the championship game.

Jevin Muñiz scored 24 points and Martaz Robinson 16 for the sixth-seeded Hornets (15-18) which saw its improbable MEAC run end.

The Hornets last beat Howard on March 5, 2020. Delaware State entered having beaten second-seeded North Carolina Central and third-seeded South Carolina State.

The Hornets were seeking their first conference championship and NCAA Tournament berth since 2005. Delaware State ended the regular season having lost four of five games.

The Bison were without Dom Campbell, Shy Odom, Ose Okojie and AJ Magbegor due to injuries. For the season, Howard's rotation players missed a total of 78 games which was among the top five in the country.

Howard led 40-34 at halftime on the strength of 8-for-17 shooting from 3-point range. With the exception of a 2-0 deficit the Bison led for 19:09 of the first 20 minutes. Towns' layup with 3:59 left before halftime gave Howard a 33-23 lead, the only double-digit lead either team held.

Towns — a 26-year-old, eighth-year senior — has had a career marred by injury. His playing career started at Harvard in 2016-17 before the Columbus, Ohio, native transferred to Ohio State beginning a series of season-ending injuries before transferring to Howard.

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