Curley Payne Comes Up Big In Win Over Morgan State
Winston-Salem, NC—March 11--Cheyenne Curley Payne scored a game-high 18 points and Saadia Doyle and Tamoria Holmes added 11 and 10, respectively to help Howard University hold off Morgan State University in the semifinal round of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference women's tournament at the Joel Coliseum. The Lady Bison (16-17), the Number 6 seed, will take on Hampton University, the Number 1 seed and regular season champion, on Saturday at 5p.m.
Howard took control early as Doyle, the MEAC Player of the Year, tallied 9 of her points en route to a 28-21 halftime advantage. Curley Payne chipped in with seven points while the Lady Bears (17-14), the Number 3 seed, got 8 points from Erin Hawkins.
Howard continued to control the game though most of the second half despite getting little production from Doyle, who came into the game averaging over 18 points per game.
"They were sending multiple people from all different kind of angles at me," said Doyle. "Before the ball went out, I was already being boxed out. I didn't handle it very well today. I got a bit panicky and it showed."
With the Lady Bears putting much of their emphasis on containing Doyle, Curley Payne was able to make them pay. The 5-2 sophomore guard from Chula Vista, CA, hit four five shots in the second stanza and grabbed seven rebounds in the final stanza.
"She's 5-2, but she is second on the team in rebounding behind Saadia," said Howard Coach Niki Reid Geckeler. "She may be small but her heart is huge. She leads us in that way as you saw tonight."
Curley Payne's two free throws at the 2:32 mark gave Howard its biggest lead of the game at 49-39. But the Lady Bears staged a furious rally with a 12-3 run over a 2:10 stretch that cut the deficit to 52-51 with 22 seconds left on the clock.
The young Lady Bison regrouped, hit some free throws and kept the Lady Bears scoreless the rest of the way, sending them into the championship game for the first since 2001.
"What a way to end a game" said Coach Geckeler. "To have so many sophomores and to get to this point is very gratifying."
In addition to her 18 points, Curley Payne added seven rebounds and four assists. Holmes, who also had some key plays in the second half, tallied seven of her 10 after intermission and Doyle finished with a double double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Morgan State was led by Erin Hawkins and Brittany Dodson, who each scored 14 and Monesha Davis, who contributed 10 in a losing cause.
"Howard has improved all year," said Morgan State Coach Donald Beasley. "They played well. They are a good team and they deserve the win.
Hampton swept Howard this season and has won three of the last four between the two rivals. The experienced Lady Pirates are the regular season and defending tournament champions.
"That's always a good game," said Coach Geckeler. "They're tough and they play well, but at this time of year, everyone is 0-0."