Howard's Season Finale: Um... Not So Great

After dropping to Maryland Eastern Shore on the road this past Saturday, the Lady Bison looked to take down the Hampton Pirates – the No. 1 ranked team in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference – in their final game of the regular season.

Unfortunately the Bison (13-17, 9-7 MEAC) would not come out on top as the Pirates (22-6, 15-1 MEAC) took the win, 60-54. Seniors Jalisa Pullins and Amanda Edwards where honored prior to tip off and each garnered starts against their conference foe.

Although the Pirates have already clinched the regular season title and will be the No. 1 seed in the upcoming tournament, the Bison did not shy away from the historic rivalry as Howard kept pace with a Pirate team that leads the MEAC in scoring defense (53.6 ppg allowed) and second in overall scoring (65.3).

The Bison were only outscored in the paint by four points (30-26), while the Pirates combined for 29 points off turnovers and second chances compared to Howard’s 21. The quickness and depth of Howard’s roster afforded them eight points on fast breaks and 13 points from the bench, while Hampton was held to zero points in those categories.

“We needed to get the ball in the paint more and create more offensive and inside plays,” head coach Niki Geckeler said. “We weren’t able to finish in transition. We needed more free throws.”

Hampton maintained the lead for the majority of the game and balanced their offense with four players who scored in double figures. The Bison relinquished 17 turnovers by the conclusion of the game.

Headlining the Bison in the season finale was sophomore Saadia Doyle who garnered 20 points, nine rebounds, two steals and an assist. Doyle was recently named the 2010-11MEAC Player of the Year following an impressive season where she led the conference in scoring (18.2), was second in rebounding (8.9), fourth in shooting (45 percent), and fifth in free throw shooting (76 percent) entering the game. With today’s game in the books, the former MEAC Rookie of the Year has racked in 549 points on the year, inching her further up the Howard All-time scoring list.

Teaming up with Doyle was sophomore guard Cheyenne Curley-Payne who recorded 19 points, seven rebounds and two steals against Hampton. Sophomore Tamoria Holmes also chimed in with eight points three rebounds, and finished first on the team in assists (3) alongside Curley-Payne.

“We made some adjustments,” Geckeler said. “We limited their plays at the end, especially on the inside, but they had key players in penetration.”

With less than a minute left the Bison tried to make a run to capture the lead and the win after being down 48-57. Strong defense on the part of Curley-Payne led to a Pirate turnover as Jericka Jenkins fumbled the ball out of bounds. Doyle drew a foul on an attempted layup and was successful at the line (1-1), inching the Bison closer to a hopeful win.

Several successful trips to the line would allow Hampton to eventually secure the game, ending Howard’s eight-game winning streak at home.

“I feel that we fought hard,” Curley-Payne said, “but we just came up short.”

Next week the Lady Bison will travel to Winston-Salem, N.C. for the MEAC Tournament.