Historically black colleges and universities (“HBCU’s”) were intimately involved in the history of the Black Fives Era of basketball.

Howard University, Lincoln University of Pennsylvania, Wilberforce University, and Hampton Institute were the earliest collegiate black basketball pioneers, with traveling teams that played in the 1910s.  Later, other black colleges began to emerge with strong basketball teams, including Morehouse, Tuskegee, and Morgan State.

1922 Morehouse College Basketball Team

1922 Morehouse College varsity basketball Team.

This week (February 22, 1922) marks the anniversary of the Harlem-based St. Christopher Club’s defeat of the visiting Morehouse College varsity basketball team, 31-25.

The loss snapped the Southern Conference champions’ 42-game winning streak.

The Maroon Tigers had beaten every major black college team including Southern Conference members Morris Brown, Tuskegee, and Atlanta University, as well as C.I.A.A. members Hampton and Shaw.

Morehouse had already claimed her 2nd straight National Negro Collegiate Championship title, but as the world knows, titles don’t always mean that much in New York City.

The St. Christopher Club of 1922, coached by former Hampton star Charles Bradford, wasn’t even the best African American basketball team at the time, which shows how competitive the programs of the Black Fives Era really were.

The game was played at the New Star Casino in Harlem, which had its largest crowd of the season. Half the spectators were from Georgia or other sections of the South and were rooting loudly for Morehouse.

“The Southerners put up a fast game and made a gallant fight against odds, but were beaten almost from the start because of the old style of long passes which they used and which were easy for the St. Christopher guards to break up,” wrote the New York Age.

“The game was unusually rough at times and was marked by a large number of fouls,” wrote the Age.

It was the Maroon Tigers’ first and last visit to New York City, but not before some old fashioned fraternization. “Dancing was enjoyed for several hours after the game,” the Age reported.