The Howard Lady Bison closed out their match with the Delaware State Hornets with a 51-46 win, extending their winning streak to three straight victories.
"We definitely get a confidence boost whenever we play at Burr," Howard head coach Niki Reid Geckeler said. "We're able to make it difficult on the other teams."
A host of turnovers and aggressive fouls, however, dominated the opening half as both teams combined for 23 turnovers,17 fouls and seven steals. Likewise, both Howard (8-14, 5-4 MEAC) and Delaware State (5-15, 1-7 MEAC) failed to convert on many offensive opportunities, shooting 29.6 percent and 35.0 percent, respectively from the field.
Midway through the half, Delaware State went on to spark a series of 13 points to lead Howard by the largest margin of the game, 21-14.
Sophomore guard Cheyenne Curley-Payne would ignite Howard back into the game with a steal after blocking a Hornet 3-pointer as the shot clock dwindled. Upon the steal, Curley-Payne assisted Tamoria Holmes on a down court pass. Holmes went on to beat out a Hornet defender for a layup to push Howard within five points.
Soon after Saadia Doyle drew a foul to shoot two. Doyle missed on both attempts at the line, but would gain another opportunity after HU snagged a defensive rebound to draw another foul, giving Doyle one more chance for two shots––she would make both.
Doyle went on to score four more points in the final two minutes of the half, putting the Bison up, 22-21.
Scoring would remain low throughout the second half, like the first, as Howard only mustered ten points from the field. The final 18 points of the game would result in shots made from the free throw line––11 of which came from Doyle.
"She wanted the ball and when she got it, she made something happen," Geckeler said. "At the end of the game her free throws were good and we were able to come out on top."
In attempts to break what was a balanced scoring second half, Kianna Conner of Delaware State converted behind the arc to inch the Hornets within two of Howard's 41 points. A Hornet foul, however, led to two successful free throws for the Bison. DSU would stay in and hustle for an offensive rebound to put up another two points. Tasia Bristow added to the wealth and landed a key shot behind the arc to give DSU the lead, 44-43.
"Delaware State made great adjustments," Geckeler said, "but the last possession we dominated. However, our defense collectively needs improvement."
Doyle would fight for a steal in DSU territory and on her break she was fouled hard and allowed two shots. Doyle was successful in both her attempts to give the Bison the 45-44 lead with 2:47 remaining on the clock.
The score would remain at a halt until 1:22 remaining after a Curley-Payne foul led to two successful attempts behind the line for Delaware State. Curley-Payne would bounce back and draw a foul to convert two shots of her own, tying the game at 46 a piece with 1:07 left in regulation.
A key rebound by Portia Deterville followed by a Howard timeout proved to be crucial. Doyle would draw a game-changing trip to the line, pushing HU up, 47-46. The Hornets would mistakenly foul Holmes – who finished the game with 11 points – and she went on to make both of her free throws.
"I told Cheynne and Tamoria to keep it close and then I would bring it home," Doyle said regarding her foul troubles in the second half.
Following a Delaware State timeout with 15.2 seconds left in the game, Bristow would look to steal the win with another 3-point shot, but failed in her efforts. Doyle would capture the rebound and draw another foul with one second left in the game, securing Howard with the 51-46 win.
"We were able to remain focused at the end of the game," Geckeler said. "Even though there was a lack of focus for 37 minutes, the last three minutes went well."
When asked how Howard was able to successfully pull out on the winning side in the past three games, Doyle attested to focus.
"I was able to remain poised along with my other teammates," Doyle said. "With that, it's easier for us to end up in the same position time and time again."
Doyle would finish the game with 18 points – 14 of which were free throws – inching her closer to the monumental 1,000 point mark. Visit Howard-Bison.com to monitor Doyle in her attempt to break 1,000 points this season and for the latest news regarding the women's basketball team.
"We've done better, historically," Geckeler said. "We have individuals that are doing good, however, we need to get better as a team."