WASHINGTON, D.C. - Saadia Doyle and Zykia Brown each scored 17 points, but it was contribution from other players that proved to be the difference as Howard won easily over Norfolk State University, 71-41 in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference women's game at Burr Gymnasium. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Lady Bison (12-12 overall, 7-5 in the MEAC) while the Spartans (3-18 overall, 0-12 in the MEAC) are still looking for their first conference victory.
Doyle, a 5-11 freshman forward and Brown, a 5-8 junior guard, who average over 37 points between them, have been carrying the Lady Bison through most of the season with their scoring and rebounding. The duo were able to match their season average but it was the production of a trio of freshmen-Kara Smith, Cheyenne Curley-Payne and Portia Deterville- that buoys Howard's hope as it heads down the stretch of the regular season and jockeys for seeding. The trio combined for 27 points and 13 rebounds among them.
"Cheyenne stepped up big for us," said Howard Coach Niki Reid Geckeler of her freshman point guard. "She had a clean line of stats. She helped in the rebounding area (career-high seven), shooting (13 points on 5-of-8 from the field) and setting up teammates (three assists, one turnover). Kara hit some big shots (nine points) and Portia made a solid contribution (five points, two rebounds). We need a lot more production from them and the other players if we are going to do well in the tournament. A game like this can do nothing but help their confidence."
Both teams got off to a slow start. After holding onto a 14-10 lead in the first 12 minutes, Howard pulled away by using a 17-6 run to close the half and take a 31-16 lead to the locker room. Brown and Doyle teamed for 16 of the points and Curley-Payne chipped in with seven.
In the second half, the Lady Bison continued to get scoring from Brown and Doyle but with Norfolk State focusing its attention on containing the duo, Smith, Deterville and Curley-Payne took advantage of opportunities and Howard cruised to the easy win.
Much of the Howard offense came off its defense that forced 18 turnovers that resulted into 17 points, and 15 points off second chance opportunities.
"After Saturday's loss (to North Carolina A&T), we placed emphasis on defense that would give us some easy baskets," explained Coach Geckeler. "We also played with a lot more energy that resulted in our rebounding effort." The Lady Bison collected 17 offensive rebounds.
Norfolk State, which suited up only nine players, got 10 points each from Marian Brooks and reserve Whitney Long. Batavia Owens grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds to go along with six points and Recca Trice collected seven assists and five steals in defeat.
Doyle, who was earlier named the MEAC Rookie of the Week for the sixth time this season, collected her 15th double-double of the year (17 points, 11 rebounds) while Brown missed a double-double of her own with nine assists, a career-high.
"This win means a lot in terms of how we played," said Brown. "We played with a lot more effort and energy today. We fixed the little things. We're looking forward to the trip to Florida because every game gets bigger as the regular season ends and the tournament starts."
NEXT UP: Norfolk State hosts Winston-Salem State next Saturday at 2 pm while the Lady Bison travel to Tallahassee, FL to take on the Lady Rattlers of Florida A&M next Saturday at 5:30 pm.