By Janaé Bradford, Staff Reporter
The Howard University women’s basketball team secured the No. 1 seed in the 2021 U.S. Air Force Reserve MEAC Tournament after defeating Delaware State on Feb. 28 leading into Women’s History Month.
The ladies displayed a stellar performance throughout the season with a record of 14-3 and 10-2 in the conference. Despite the different circumstances of the 2020-2021 season, they found a way to finish with the highest winning percentage in the program’s history.
“With seven freshmen, we are very young and have been underestimated the entire season. However, we have come together as a class and as a team to make a statement not only in our conference but for our culture too,” said freshman forward Anzhane Hutton.
The bond between the freshmen and upperclassmen was created before the season.
Everyone had to adjust to the changes amid the coronavirus pandemic but they all maintained the same goal; to come together and win. Preparing for this season was more of a mental battle than a physical one for the team.
“Although I couldn’t be on the court physically, I had to stay positive and still bring that same energy to do whatever it takes to support and encourage my team,” junior guard Gia Thorpe said describing her feelings after suffering injuries this season.
Coach Tiesha “Ty” Grace was graced with an exceptional freshman class entering her sixth year as head coach. Anzhane Hutton received MEAC Rookie of the Week honors for four consecutive weeks towards the end of the season.
She produced four double-digit point and rebound games and was a consistent fourth-quarter star.
Unfortunately, like many Class of 2024 athletes, this wasn’t Hutton’s ideal way to start her collegiate career. Although COVID-19 didn’t halt her season, it altered her introduction into Howard culture as well as many others who only received a taste of it.
“It has been hard. Sometimes it is very lonely, but it is important that we keep our bubble closed. For me, it has been sad because I only had one full semester on campus and I’ll be entering my junior year soon. So, it’s almost like I’m running out of time to enjoy college outside of basketball,” said sophomore forward Brooklynn Fort-Davis.
“Also, not having fans has been weird. Home games haven’t been the same without the fans, band and cheerleaders. This new lifestyle has made me grow and mature because I’ve had a lot of time to myself.”
The common attitude of the team revolves around confidence and humility. As talented as they are, the Lady Bison are aware of the talent within their conference and beyond it. They all agree that earning a spot in the NCAA Tournament would be game-changing to the program’s reputation.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) rarely make an appearance in the tournament, so their inclusion would be historical and influential to the next generation of basketball players.
The women’s basketball team has the opportunity to bring the conference title to D.C. and showcase the capabilities of HBCU athletics. The Howard University women’s basketball team is indeed the one to keep an eye on for years to come.