By: HU Bison Athletics
Howard University Women’s Basketball team saw its title hopes shattered when the No. 12 Florida A&M Rattlers downed HU, 69-64, at the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) First Round inside the Norfolk Scope Arena.
“I pretty disappointed how the game ended,” said Howard Women’s Basketball head coach Ty Grace. “We had some opportunities to pull away, but we didn’t. Florida A&M did a good job pushing the tempo and making crucial shots.”
Sophomore Sarah Edmond had a game-high 24 points on 8-of-17, including 4-of-6 from long range.
“I started driving and once they played the drive, I found my teammates,” Edmond stated. “My shots started falling from three.”
FAMU’s Dawn King connected on a jumper and gave the Rattlers a 10-point cushion, 39-29, but the Bison fought back with a 14-4 run and tied the contest after a steal and fast break layup from sophomore Imani Bryant, 43-43.
“We played more man-to-man [after halftime],” said Grace on rallying from a 10-point halftime deficit. “[Ecencur] Yurdakul made some big threes and we had to make an adjust. We did a better job in the second half. In transition, we missed her a couple times. But it was the defensive adjustments we made on a couple of their players.”
Moments later, second-year guard Ayonna Williams made a fast break jumper and gave Howard the lead, 47-45, but it was short-lived as FAMU’s Florence Outtara drilled a trey ball with more than two minutes left in the third, 48-47. Florida A&M held a three-point advantage after three, 53-50.
HU opened the fourth on an 8-2 spurt, capped off by a long ball from Edmond, and took the lead with 6:01 remaining, 58-55.
Both squads went back-and-fourth with time dwindling, but a fast break three-pointer from King with under three minutes left would put the Rattlers ahead for good.
Howard dominated the glass, outrebounding FAMU, 50-39. Bryant led the way, finishing with 11 points and a team-high eight boards.
“We knew [Florence] Ouattara and [Shakeyrra] Morrison were the biggest rebounders on their team,” Bryant stated. “We tried to find them and box out. We noticed that most of the rebounds were long so we talked about following the long rebounds and going after loose balls.”
Bryant made a pair of freebies and put the Bison ahead early, 9-8, until FAMU closed out the period on a 7-2 run and took a four-point lead after one, 15-11.
With more than two minutes remaining before intermission, King made a trey ball and put the Rattlers ahead, 31-20. Howard sliced the margin down to single digits, but another late jumper from King gave FAMU a 37-27 halftime lead.
With the victory, Florida A&M (7-23) advanced to the MEAC Quarterfinals where they will square off against No. 13 Savannah State. Four Rattlers reached double-figures, led by Shakeyrra Morrison with 19 points and 11 boards.
Howard ends its 2017-18 campaign 12-18 overall and 8-8 in league play.
“I think experience will help this squad,” Grace added. “These two [Imani Bryant and Sarah Edmond] will be juniors and two years of experience will definitely be a separating factor for them. Next year, the turnovers and mistakes I don’t expect to happen with the offseason, watching film, and developing their games individually.”
“You can’t win championships without rebounding and defending,” Grace ended. “Those will be points of emphasis going into the offseason.”
For more information, visit the Bison Athletics website at www.HUBison.com.