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Howard Women’s Basketball Falls Short of Glory, but Championship Culture Remains Intact

Photo courtesy of MEAC Media Relations. The Lady Bison (left to right: Krislyn Marsh, Aziah Hudson, Destiny Howell, Kaniyah Harris, Nyla Cooper) gather together to regroup.

Silence and anticipation filled the press conference room as three people made their way through the door. The three people in question– Howard Women’s Basketball head coach Ty Grace, MEAC Player of the Year Destiny Howell and graduate forward Krislyn Marsh, who had just finished playing in the biggest game of their season – the conference championship. 

This time last year, they were in bliss. Trophy in hand, pieces of net adorning their heads and necks and smiles stretching across their faces. This year, things were different. Puffy eyes and disappointed looks were what they wore instead.

The Howard Women’s Basketball team was defeated in the 2023 MEAC Tournament championship game by the number one seeded Norfolk State Spartans, 56-52. A game that was within reach but got away just as they tried to grab ahold of it. A game that could’ve gone either way.

“ We came prepared,” Grace said after the loss. “We were coming in to win the basketball game. So my team was ready to go. They were locked in, they were focused. Basketball is a game of runs, it goes back and forth, and that’s exactly what happened. Norfolk came up on top at the end.”

This is coach Grace’s eighth season as head coach of the Lady Bison. During her time as head coach, Grace has helped lay a foundation for growth, winning basketball games and a championship culture that has already begun to ingrain itself into the fabric of the squad.

“This season we dealt with the things that we had to face and the kids stepped up,” Grace said. “They rose to the occasion. They kept fighting. They kept believing. We’ve been to three championship games in a row, three years in a row, and that’s not an easy thing to do.”

Grace continued by expressing her pride in the team.  “This program has built a culture of winning and I’m hoping that that’s something that we continue to do. So tonight is not defining our season. They’ve set the standard of legacy and this is where we expect to be every year,” she said after the game.

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Krislyn Marsh, a fifth-year player and key cog for the team, has been rostered for the majority of Grace’s tenure and has reaped the benefits of investing in her culture.

“Coming in, my freshman year and my sophomore year we came to the tournament and we didn’t handle up,” Marsh said. “In the last three years we came up here, we went to the championship every single year. We’ve gotten better every single year that I was here and it’s been amazing watching the program shift and grow.”

This is Marsh’s final year of eligibility, ending their collegiate career on a bittersweet note. They’ve had a career full of highs and lows. Marsh helped win the MEAC Tournament last year along with Howard’s first-ever NCAA Tournament win against Incarnate Word. This year, they struggled with injury, suiting up for only 19 of the 30 games Howard played this season.

Marsh sat in the front of the room and smiled, reminiscing about all the memories they’ve made at the school.

“I’m really excited,” Marsh said. “I’m happy that I played, happy that I got to be with my team, my family, and I’m just looking forward to supporting the program next year.”

Junior guard Destiny Howell, the Player of the Year for the MEAC this season, will be one of the women returning to the program next year. Howell stepped her game up to another level this season, averaging a conference-leading 16.8 points, and career-highs in efficiency. That next-level game showed itself in the waning moments of the season. With a championship on the line, Howell left it all out on the court, dropping 30 points, including two clutch three-pointers at the end of the game to keep the Lady Bison in it.

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“I mean, I really wanted to win,” Howell said. “I came here for one reason and it was to win a championship. So that was my mindset the entire time. I noticed that in certain situations I had to pick my team up and try and make certain shots, and some of them went in, some of them didn’t, and the game went how it went.”

For a team that had just gone through heartbreak, the messaging from the team’s leaders made it clear that they were not going home with their heads down. The championship culture that had been firmly established during last year’s season is simply being built upon. Their new test is clear: Make it back to the championship. And this time, win it.

“This was God’s plan,” Howell said. “Sometimes you’re not gonna like what God has planned for us. Obviously, I didn’t like the outcome of this year, but we’ll be back next year, I promise you that.”

Copy edited by Jasper Smith


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