Hampton Uses Defense To Pull out Win Over Howard
Winston Salem, NC-March 10--Jericka Jenkins converted two free throws and then Hampton held Howard scoreless over the last 1:19 to eke out a 54-53 win over the Lady Bison in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament championship at the LJVM.
The Number 1 Lady Pirates (24-8) will receive the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament and will find out their opponent on Monday during the Selection Show. Number 2 Howard will wait for an invitation to the WNIT.
Both teams came into the game ranked nationally in defense and that was what dictated the tempo. Howard took the early lead out of the blocks at 9-2 only to have Hampton rally to take a 29-21 advantage at the half. Jenkins, a senior guard and a first team All-MEAC selection, put her team on her shoulders by tallying 10 points.
The Lady Pirates, who won their third straight tournament title, upped the margin 10 to start the second half, but that is when Howard began to methodically work its way back in the game despite Hampton's attempts to keep them at bay by holding an 8 to 10-point bulge.
"We didn't rebound the ball well in the first half," said Hampton Coach David Six. "We did a better job in the second half. We also had some foul trouble which created matchups that were different than when we play them. But give Howard credit. It was a great game for a championship. I think I aged 10 years."
After the Lady Pirates took their last double digit lead at 47-37 at the 9:30 mark, the Lady Bison went on a 16-5 run over an eight-minute span to take their first lead of the second half at 53-52 on a jump shot by Tamoria Holmes with 1:19 remaining.
Jenkins, who was named the tournament outstanding performer, was fouled six seconds later and the senior, a career 80 percent free throw shooter, calmly sank two free throws as Hampton regained the lead at 54-53 with 1:19 left on the clock.
The Lady Bison had two more attempts to take the lead, but the Lady Pirates defense thwarted both attempts by Holmes to close out the game.
"I thought the last shot that I took had a chance," said Holmes, who led all scorers with 20 points and was named to the all-tournament team. "We battled back, we played hard, but we came up short."
Neither team shot the ball well, but the Lady Pirates used a 40-28 rebounding advantage to offset that and the 17 turnovers they committed.
"We are usually a good rebounding team, but we lost the battle on the boards this game," said Howard Coach Niki Reid Geckeler.
Jenkins led her team with and 5 assists, Alyssa Bennett with 13 and Kiera Avant with a double double of 10 points and 12 rebounds.
"In the past three years I have played, it has been a battle," said Jenkins. "Doyle is a tough player who plays hard all the time. She gets loose balls and does other things to help her team."
She continued. "Holmes is a great offensive player. She scores well and she is very difficult to defend."
The Lady Bison, who tied a school record for most victories in a season, got a game-high 20 from Holmes and 16 from Saadia Doyle, who was also named to the all tournament team.
"We are excited that we will be in post-season play,' said Geckeler. "We have all of our starters returning and lose only two seniors, so the future is bright for Howard women's basketball."
The All tournament team included Doyle and Holmes of Howard, Antonia Bennett from Florida A&M and Jeanine Manley from Coppin State. Jenkins was named tournament outstanding performer and David Six was named tournament outstanding coach.