Howard gave Kansas a surprising challenge in its first NCAA Tournament game since 1992, leading five times in the second half of Thursday's game before eventually falling 96-68 to the defending champions. Vice President Kamala Harris -- a Howard alum -- watched the action from a suite at Wells Fargo Arena, and the Bison's gutsy performance compelled her to applaud the team directly.
After the game, Harris visited the Howard locker room and gave the players an inspirational pep talk to recognize their effort, smarts and discipline.
"You made all us Bison so proud." ❤️@VP Kamala Harris delivered a postgame message to @HUMensBB 👏 #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/zwQFcwlWYX— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 16, 2023
"You put everything you had into the game, and you know that's what it's about, right," Harris said. "Until the last minute, you guys did that. You didn't stop until the last second, you did not stop. And that is so inspiring. So you keep playing with chin up and shoulders back because you showed the world who Bison are. I mean, literally what you have done is in historic proportion. I was at Howard back in the day, where we just happy that there was a game, much less getting to this place.
"And I see Bison literally all over the world, and we've been talking about you, this team. ... You make us so proud. So In know you may not be feeling great right now, but know who you are. You are excellence. You are hard work. You are powerful, and you are winners. So please know that."
Harris concluded her speech by inviting the team to tour the White House when they feel like playing "hooky," drawing some laughs from inside the locker room.
While Howard failed to win its first ever NCAA Tournament game against the top-seeded Jayhawks, this season was certainly one worth celebrating. Fourth-year coach Kenny Blakeney led the prestigious HBCU to its third ever March Madness appearance and first outright MEAC title since 1986-87.