Howard Parlays the Scoring of Doyle and Holmes and Team Defense to Advance
Winston-Salem, NC—March 9--Saadia Doyle scored 16 of her game-high 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and Tamoria Holmes tallied 13 of her 19 after intermission to lead Howard University to a 51-43 win over Florida A&M University in the semifinals of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference women's tournament at the LJVMC.
The Lady Bison (24-7), the Number 2 seed, advance to the tournament championship for the second straight year against Hampton, the 2011-12 regular season and 2011 defending tournament champion on Saturday. That game will be televised live on ESPNU at 4 pm.
It was Doyle and the Howard defense that set the tone for the game early. The Lady Bison jumped out to an early 24-8 lead on the strength of some strong team defense and Doyle, a first team All-MEAC selection.
The Howard defense was stifling, holding the Lady Rattlers to 15 percent on 5 of 33 shooting. The 5-11 junior from Atlanta, GA, led all scorers with 16 points and grabbed 6 rebounds.
"We hang out hats on our defense," said Howard Coach Niki Reid Geckeler, of the defense which has held 25 of the last 26 opponents to under 60 points. "We were able to execute our game plan. Saadia did a great job on the boards and Tamoria picked up things offensively for us in the second half. And the twins (Portia and Nicole Deterville) are our unsung heroes." The Deterville twins grabbed 14 rebounds between them.
The Lady Rattlers (22-8), the Number 3 seed, made a run in the second half and used a 10-1 run to get within two at 36-34 at the 6:43 mark.
Following a timeout, Howard responded with a 10-2 spurt to take a 46-36 lead with 1:49 left that all but sealed the deal. Holmes, a first team All-MEAC selection, scored four of her 13 second points during the run.
"The outside game wasn't working in the first half, so coach told me to start going to the hole," said Holmes, who connected on 8 of 16 from the field and grabbed a season-high 6 rebounds.
After establishing herself as an offensive threat in the first half, Doyle concentrated more of defense and rebounding the second half, along with an occasional timely basket or free throws to keep FAMU at arm's length.
"I came out much more aggressive today than I did in our regular season game against them," said Doyle, who recorded her 39th double double of her career.
The Lady Rattlers appeared to be a step slow to start the game. Florida A&M had pulled out a hard-fought win over Maryland Eastern Shore less than 24 hours before this game. Their problems were further compounded by the absence of Antonia Bennett, the MEAC Player of the Year and Qiana Donald, the MEAC Defensive Player of the Year, due to foul problems.
"We started the game slow and sluggish," said FAMU head coach LaDawn Gibson, the MEAC Coach of the Year. "We dug ourselves in a hole that we were not able to get out of. And when Antonia and Qiana got into foul trouble, it changed the game."
Jasmine Grice led the Lady Rattlers with 14 points while Donald and Bennett each added 13 in a losing effort. Jamie Foreman grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds for Florida A&M.
Hampton swept Howard this season and has won six a row in the series, including last year's championship. It matches the Number 1 and 2 seeds.
"It is Number 1 and 2 matching up,"said Coach Geckeler. "They are very tough team."