Tuesday, March 06, 2007
RALEIGH, NC – The South Carolina State women raced to any early lead but could not sustain that momentum in falling 77-74 to Howard Tuesday in the opening round action of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament at the RBC Center.
It was the second time in as many years that the Lady Bison eliminated SC State, which concluded its season at 7-22.
Howard, which started the season 0-15, improved to 8-21 and earned the right to play top-seed Coppin State Wednesday in a quarter-final game at noon.
Junior Brittany Baity had just one field goal – a 3-pointer – but nailed 17 of 18 from the free throw line for 20 points to lead the Lady Bulldogs in the loss. Freshmen Sophilia Hipps and Brittany Gillespie, and sophomore Jenell Moore added 11 points each. Moore also had a game-high 12 rebounds.
Redshirt junior Shannon Carlisle, the MEAC Defensive Player of the Year, had 24 points to lead Howard. Sequoya Moore added 19 points and 10 boards for the Lady Bison, who had 18 of their 51 rebounds on the offensive end.
The Lady Bulldogs, just like in their previous four or five outings, started quickly and built a 24-10 advantage when Jessica Gerald nailed a 3-pointer with 10:32 left in the first half.
SC State still led by the margin – 28-14 – after Gillespie got two free throws, however, just as any previous games, the Lady Bulldogs appeared to lose their focus, especially on the boards where Howard got numerous second-chance opportunities in rallying to tie the contest at 31-all on a short jumper by Reyna Gross at the 3:17 mark. The Lady Bison took a 41-38 lead to the locker room.
Howard scored 11 of the first 17 points of the second half to build a 52-45 edge with 14:45 left, however, SC State battled back to forge a 52-52 deadlock when Moore converted two free throws with 13:43 to play.
There were three more ties, the last at 63-63 with 8:01 left, before Carlisle made four straight free throws to ignite a 7-1 spree by the Lady Bison that gave them a 70-64 advantage with 4:10 to play.
The Lady Bulldogs closed the gap to one, 72-71, on a layup by Gillespie, however, it was Carlisle again sparking Howard with two straight layups for a 76-71 lead with 3:08 showing. The closest Mackey’s team came after that was the final margin.
Mackey lamented the fact that her team could not hold on to its early lead and the Lady Bulldogs’ inability to keep Howard off the glass.
“It’s (the loss) similar to our last four or five ball games,” Mackey said, “We have gotten off to great starts, played strong first halves but couldn’t get things going in the second half.
“We’ve tried everything,” she continued, “Pressuring our opponent, picking up our intensity, but we just couldn’t seem to get the momentum back.
“We are young, and we had only eight players for awhile and the numbers (players) or lack thereof, probably played a role.
“But, the difference against Howard was we didn’t execute our offense down the stretch, and we failed to keep them off the boards. When we were allowing them just one shot, we had control of the game. After they started getting second and third opportunities, they took control.”
The Lady Bulldogs had just one senior on this year’s squad – LaQuita Ball. Ball sustained a preseason injury and missed the entire regular season. She closed out her career on Tuesday with a nine-minute, three-rebound, one-point performance against Howard. JUCO Navodda Wilson, who also missed the regular season with an injury, made a brief appearance in Tuesday’s game, playing three minutes without scoring.