Doyle, Holmes Lead Howard To Comeback Win Over NC A&T
Winston-Salem, NC—March 10--Saadia Doyle scored 17 of her game-high 28 points in the second half and Tamoria Holmes added 15 of her career-high 26 after intermission to help Howard come from a 22-point first half deficit and get by North Carolina A&T, 82-72 in the quarterfinal round of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference women's tournament at the Joel Coliseum.
The Lady Bison (15-17), the Number 6 seed, advance to the semifinal round where they will take on Morgan State, the Number 2 seed at 2:30 pm on Friday.
The Lady Aggies (15-14), the Number 3 seed, came out on fire, shooting a blistering 70 percent from the field overall, and 75 percent from three-point range (6 of 8). North Carolina A&T was in high gear, getting up and down the floor and seemingly hitting every shot that they threw up.
It resulted in what appeared to be an insurmountable 36-14 lead at the 5:49 mark. All the Lady Aggie players got into the scoring act, led by Jaquayla Berry (9 points), Mikala Scott (9 points), Tracy King (8) and Reisha Bullock (7 ).
But the young Bison, which start four sophomores settled down and began to mount their comeback. Led by Doyle and Holmes, who combined for 22 first half points, Howard reeled off a 19-7 run over the last five minutes of the first half to reduce the deficit to 43-33 at the break.
"I told the team not to quit," said a composed Howard Coach Niki Reid Geckeler. "To keep fighting. And I think that is what they did, just believing that they could still win."
The Lady Bison continued their comeback at the start of the second half on the scoring of Doyle, who singlehandedly got her team back into the game, at one point scoring 9 straight points. The comeback became complete when a 16-6 run knotted the game at 49-all at the 14:13 mark.
"They did a good job driving to the basket and getting to the line,' said NC A&T Coach Patricia Cage Bibbs. "They went man to man and you have to be able to execute. They did a great job."
Added NC A&T' s Berry, a first team All-MEAC selection, "They were all in our face in the man to man and the adjustments they made seemed to work."
From there, it became a seesaw battle that featured several ties and lead changes. The Lady Aggies relied on the scoring of Mikala Scott, Reisha Bullock and Nikia Gorham to keep it close.
Howard countered on the play of Holmes, who took over where Doyle left off, once scoring 13 of her team's 16 points during a key stretch. The Lady Bison were also able to get key contributions from sophomore point guard Cheyenne Curley Payne, who scored 10 of her 16 in the second half, including a big three pointer and some clutch free throws.
"Of course, the performance of Saadia Doyle and Tamoria Holmes was huge for the day," said Geckeler. "The run by Tamoria was huge. It gave us a lot of energy and confidence."
After Bullock knocked down two free throws to cut the deficit to 76-72 with 1:26 remaining, the Lady Bison held the Lady Aggies scoreless as Curley Payne converted free throws to seal the victory and send Howard to the semifinals for the second straight year.
Doyle, the MEAC Player of the Year and a first team All-conference selection, just missed a double double with 28 points and 9 rebounds while playing the entire 40 minutes. Holmes shot 10 of 14 from the field and added three assists and three steals to her stats.
"Adrenalin and staying calm was a key," said Doyle. "We did not want to get overzealous. We just kept fighting and never gave up."
Scott led North Carolina A&T with 17 while Bullock and Berry each tallied 13 in a losing effort.