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Historic Run for the Lady Bison Comes to a Bittersweet End

The Howard University Women’s Basketball team made it to the NCAA Tournament after winning its first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) championship in 21 years.

By: Malik Seay, Sports Editor

Head coach Ty Grace celebrating with players  after First NCAA Tournament win in school history. (photo courtesy of NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

                             

The Howard University Women’s Basketball team made it to the NCAA Tournament after winning its first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) championship in 21 years. 

For their third matchup of the season on March 12, the Lady Bison defeated Norfolk State in a 61- 44 win to secure their ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2001. 

The Lady Bison were led by sophomore Destiny Howell. Howell posted a career high of 25 points, and was named 2022 MEAC Most Outstanding Performer. Head coach Ty Grace described Howell as a “player that can score on every play.”

In an interview after the game, Grace, who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Coach, said, “I’m so proud of our team and Howard University, we were locked in from day one and we never forgot about last year. Our kids remember crying in that loss while North Carolina A&T State celebrated.”

With the victory, the Lady Bison received the MEAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA and awaited the pairings for the NCAA tournament.

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On March 13, the NCAA Women’s Basketball Committee unveiled its 68-team bracket and the Howard University Women’s Basketball team drew Southland Conference Champion Incarnate Word in the First Four round.

History was made Wednesday March 16, at the Colonial Life Arena when Krislyn Marsh and Brooklyn Fort-Davis each recorded a double-double to lead Howard to a 55-51 victory over Incarnate Word. This was the first-ever First Four contest in 2022 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship history. The win also marked the first time in school history that the Bison earned an NCAA Tournament victory.

“I’m so thankful for these young women that made history tonight,” said Grace postgame. “I’m really proud of them and thank you to the Bison community for all their support. I’m elated and thankful to represent this proud university,” she added.

With this win, Howard faced the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed South Carolina Gamecocks on March 18. The only No. 16 seed to ever win a tournament game came in 1998 when Harvard upset top seeded Stanford. In fact, schools seeded No. 14-16 on the Women’s side are 1-324 all-time.

“It’s another day to play,” said Fort-Davis, commenting on playing South Carolina. “It’s going to be a tough one, but we’ve played tough games all season long. We’re ready.”

On Friday, March 18, the Howard University Women’s Basketball team saw its historic run come to an end, falling to No. 1 South Carolina 79-21 in the NCAA First Round.

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The Gamecocks held Howard to the fewest points ever in an NCAA tournament game and the lowest-scoring first half of any team in tournament history with just four points. 

Despite this late scoring burst from Howard, the Gamecocks bench unit came to play and kept pace with the lead the starters built. It brought lots of energy to the crowd even as the clock neared the end in the fourth quarter. The bench unit scored 43 bench points for the night.

Iyanna Warren  led Howard with eight points. “It was the opportunity of a lifetime that not many teams, not many people get to experience. We got to play South Carolina on their home floor,” Warren said, “We were just happy and excited for the opportunity.”

Grace told her team that they have proven they can be conference champions, they can pay attention to how South Carolina handled them and see how to take the next step.

During the postgame Grace added, “I want to thank everyone that supported us, I’m really proud of our team. We made history and now we move on.”

Copy edited by Jasper Smith 

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