Winston-Salem, NC—March 8---Tamoria Holmes scored a team-high 14 points and Saadia Doyle and Zykia Brown each added 11 to help Howard University defeat South Carolina State, 57-42 and advance to the semifinal round where they will play the winner of the Maryland Eastern Shore-Florida A&M match on Friday at 2:30 pm.
The Lady Bison (23-7), the Number 2 seed, wasted little time, jumping out to an early lead and all but putting the game away at the half with a 36-17 advantage. Offensively, Howard was effective as Holmes (9 points), Brown (8 points), Doyle (7 points), Kara Smith (7 points) combined for 31 of their points.
The Lady Bulldogs (13-16), the Number 7 seed, made only five field goals and further compounded their problems by giving 20 points off 18 first half turnovers.
"Our defense sets the tone for us," said Howard head coach Nikki Reid Geckeler. "Our defense allowed us to force turnovers and we were able to get some easy baskets. We came out strong and I was pleased with the effort."
SC State head coach Doug Robertson agreed. "Howard played well. Coach Geckeler does a great job. We had a game plan but we were not able to execute it. Once we got down big, we began to show anxiety and started to force things."
The second half was more of the same as Howard limited the Lady Bulldogs to 29 percent shooting from the field and forced more turnovers that resulted into points. For the game, the Lady Bison scored 31 of their points compliments of SC State miscues.
"We wanted to make sure that we not lose our focus," said Doyle, who was named to the All-MEAC first team along with her teammate, Holmes. "You have to continue to improve and be consistent each game as you move forward in the tournament."
The trio of Doyle, Holmes and Brown have provided the offensive punch all year for Howard. But the Lady Bison got some unexpected production from Smith (9 points).
"When you get into tournament play, you need different people to step up," said Geckeler. 'The last time we played SC State, Kara scored 20 points (a career high). I thought India Bradford also gave us a lift off the bench."
Tiara Knotts led the Lady Bulldogs with 14 points while Trinese Fox contributed 13. Tracey Flowers pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds.
"I thought that we lost our poise and got frustrated when we got down early," said Knotts.