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Howard and Morgan State faced off in NBA’s inaugural HBCU Classic at All-Star weekend

Howard earned a 68-66 comeback victory against Morgan State, and both HBCUs received $100,000 donations from the NBA and AT&T

Before the NBA’s biggest names take center stage for All-Star weekend on Sunday, the bright lights were shone on a talented group of collegiate hoopers for two storied HBCUs.

During the association’s inaugural HBCU Classic on Saturday, the Howard University Bison narrowly beat the Morgan State University Bears in a 68-66 thriller of a matchup, which Howard did not lead until the final 31 seconds, per The Baltimore Sun.

Howard wins the first-ever NBA HBCU Classic 👏 #NBAAllStar | @HUBisonSports pic.twitter.com/ME1M5QkE4U

— ESPN (@espn) February 19, 2022

The Bison were led by an 18-point performance from guard Kyle Foster, a graduate student and the NCAA leader in 3-point percentage, who nailed the two free throws that lifted Howard above MSU on Saturday, according to the report. Randall Brumant and Elijah Hawkins each scored 17 points for the Bison, ESPN reported.

MSU guard De’Torrion Ware posted 19 points for the Bears, while forwards Lagio Grantsaan and added Chad Venning 11 points each.

According to NBA.com, the new event is “intended to amplify historically Black colleges and universities during one of the sports world’s biggest weekends.”

CLEVELAND, OHIO – FEBRUARY 19: Trevor Moore #55 of the Morgan State Bears passes the ball past Bryce Harris #34 of the Howard Bison during NBA x HBCU Classic Presented by AT&T as part of the 2022 All-Star Weekend at Wolstein Center on February 19, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)

The NBA and AT&T awarded $100,000 donations to both Howard and Morgan State, which is intended to provide the student-athletes resources for academic success and overall wellness, the Sun reported.

Per the Sun, the National Basketball Players Association, led by former president and Phoenix Suns star Chris Paul, helped raise $3 million in 2021 to introduce the event to the lineup of All-Star weekend events, which also include the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, Mountain Dew 3-Point Contest, AT&T Slam Dunk contest and the 71st annual All-Star Game.

NBA stars Khris Middleton and Collin Sexton, and retired Seattle Supersonics legend Gary Payton joined public figures including filmmaker Spike Lee, activist Rev. Jesse Jackson and author Michael Eric Dyson to show support.

In-stadium commentary for Saturday’s game was hosted by Stephanie Ready, alumna of HBCU Coppin State University, as well as Detroit Pistons icon Isiah Thomas, according to the Sun.

Morgan State University is well-represented at this year’s NBA HBCU Classic.

The @MorganStBears are taking on Howard University. #NBAAllStar

🎥 @davidaldridgedc pic.twitter.com/gWSD2QwCx4

— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) February 19, 2022

Before tip-off, Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry and Paul spoke to the student-athletes, Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young took photos with the players and Keke Palmer performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and the national anthem, NBA.com reported.

Basketball players for Howard and MSU will additionally participate in professional development and networking programming led by NBA and team executives, as well as current and former players, per the Sun.

Robert Covington, Los Angeles Clippers forward and the only HBCU alum currently in the NBA, said the opportunity provided by the new event is “phenomenal.”

“It gives kids a chance to really come out and put up their skills and focus. There’s a lot of times that HBCUs don’t get that recognition,” the Tennessee State graduate told the Sun.

“I played with a lot of talented players that didn’t get the right opportunities because people think that we don’t play against no one,” Covington added. “That’s what they said to me coming out that I didn’t play any good against anyone or the top-tier major players. I used that as motivation.”

“Kids have a chip on their shoulder. So that’s what it’s all about, just having a chip and just trying to do it,” he said.

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