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Lady Bison Fall Short of Comeback in MEAC Tournament

The Howard women’s basketball team demonstrated standout performances in the MEAC tournament, setting a promising tone for the future amidst roster changes.

Kaiya Creek drives with the ball past the defense. (Photo courtesy of Jalisa Fulwood).

The Howard women’s basketball team finished with a 14-15 regular season record, earning them second place in the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference (MEAC) and the second seed in the conference tournament. 

Their first opponent in the tournament was the 8-22 seventh-seeded Morgan State Bears. The opening quarter saw many score changes, culminating in a deadlock at 15-15. After an 8-0 run to start the second quarter, the Bison quickly took the lead. Outscoring the Bears 24-14 between both the second and third quarters, the Bison took a 41-29 lead heading into the fourth quarter.  

The Bears had a strong fourth quarter, outscoring the Bison 15-4, but their 18 costly turnovers would play in the Bison’s favor as they scored 20 points off turnovers. In the final minutes of the game, the Bison hit three straight free throws to solidify their 49-44 victory. 

Senior guard Iyanna Warren led all scorers with 15 points while shooting eight of ten from the free-throw line. Senior guard Kaniyah Harris followed up with 10 points while sophomore forward Nile Miller led the team with nine rebounds, also recording three blocks and two steals. 

The Bison would go on to face the 16-15 third-seeded North Carolina Central Eagles in the MEAC semifinals. The Bison asserted their dominance on the court, outscoring the Eagles in every quarter en route to a 69-56 win. 

The Bison’s defense was key as they recorded 10 steals while forcing 25 turnovers from the Eagles and scoring 19 points off turnovers. Warren led the way with 23 points and two steals while senior forward Kaiya Creek followed up with 19 points, two steals and one block. 

Moving to the final round, the Bison would face the top-seeded Norfolk State Spartans for the third consecutive year in the MEAC tournament championship game.

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The Bison fell behind early as the Spartans took an 11-6 lead going into the second quarter and went into halftime leading 20-18. The third quarter witnessed a pivotal turn of events, with the Bison taking control and snatching a 34-33 lead, marking their first lead of the game with just a minute and five seconds remaining in the quarter.

The momentum was on Howard’s side, entering the fourth quarter with a 36-33 lead, but the Spartans battled back and regained the lead.

The Spartans had control of the ball and a 47-46 lead with one minute and 28 seconds on the clock. Junior guard for the Spartans, Diamond Johnson went one of two from the free throw line and Howard still had eight seconds to win or tie the game. 

Freshman forward for the Bison, Sa’lah Hemmingway was contested on her final shot as the Spartans got the rebound and went to the free throw line again.

Freshman guard for the Spartans,  Da’Brya Clark clinched victory by hitting three of four free throws, sealing the game with a final score of 51-46, despite the Bison’s efforts. 

Howard journalism major and intern for the Howard University Athletics Department, George Hamilton contends that “neither team shot the ball well,” as both teams combined for 28 total turnovers and neither team shot above 30 percent from the field or three-point line.

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The Spartans dominated the boards, as they recorded 23 offensive rebounds compared to Howard’s 10, resulting in a 50-38 rebounding advantage. Throughout the contest, only three players managed to break into double-digit scoring, with Iyanna Warren being the sole player for Howard to do so with 19 points. 

Kaiya Creek recorded eight points, six rebounds and two steals while Sa’lah Hemmingway had two steals and two blocks off the bench. 

Despite not winning the championship, the women played big in their tournament run.

Hamilton credited the tournament run to a late-season surge, as they won seven out of their final 10 regular-season games. 

Hamilton was impressed with how the team stepped up in the absence of reigning MEAC player of the year Destiny Howell, who tore her ACL and missed the season. 

He stated how even without Howell, “Iyanna Warren stepped up in a huge way, especially being a facilitator and scorer.” In their three games of the MEAC tournament, Warren scored 57 points and averaged 19 points a game. 

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Both Warren and Creek played key roles throughout the tournament for the Bison, which earned them spots on the MEAC All-Tournament team.

The Bison will look to bounce back next season, setting a bright trajectory despite facing roster shifts attributed to graduating seniors. Information regarding the team during the offseason can be found on their Howard University Athletics webpage or the Howard women’s basketball Instagram page.

Copy edited by D’ara Campbell.


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