Calvin Thompson added 12 points for the Bison (2-7).
Trailing 46-43 at the 4:58 mark in the second half, Howard (2-7) closed out American with a 12-4 run to end the game.
Down three, Phillips hit a jumper to cut American’s (3-5) lead to one, 46-45, but Tony Wroblicky answered with a jumper to push the Eagles’ lead back to three, 48-45, with four minutes left to play.
Phillips responded, hitting back-to-back jumpers to give Howard a 49-48 lead with at the 1:59 mark.
Mike Bersch’s tip-in with 45 seconds remaining put American within one, 51-50, but Thompson and Simuel Frazier went 6 for 6 on free throws in the last two minutes to seal the victory for the Bison.