NORFOLK, Va.– Nicole Deterville, a senior center, put in a missed shot at the buzzer to give No. 3 Howard a 62-60 win over the Morgan State University Lady Bears in the quarterfinal round of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Tournament on March 14 at the Norfolk Scope Arena.
Morgan State (13-18), the number six seed, almost pulled off the upset, courtesy of the play of senior guard Bianca Jarrett who poured in a career-high 34 points, including several clutch baskets that put her team in a position to win.
Jarrett set the tone in the first half when she scored 21 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field and 5-of-10 from beyond the arc. Howard was able to counter on the production of senior guard Cheyenne Curley-Payne, who led the Lady Bison with 12 points. The score was deadlocked at 29 at the half.
Howard, a senior-laden team, appeared out of sync through the first half and could be attributed to the team's long layoff. The Lady Bison last played on March 2.
“There was some concern with that coming in and you saw it in the first half,” said Howard head coach Nikki Reid Geckeler. “We talked about it at halftime and we settled in to adjusting to being in a competitive mode.”
There was more of the same to come in the second half. Jarrett continued her assault on the Howard defense, but she got help from teammates senior guard Jamesia (Jamie) Smith and sophomore guard Tracey Carrington, who combined for 14 second-half points.
The Lady Bison threatened to put some distance between them and Morgan State when Jarrett picked up her third foul and Howard’s senior guard Saadia Doyle began to show why she is the all-time leading scorer in MEAC history. Doyle scored 10 of her team's 14 points during a run midway through the second half that gave Howard its biggest lead at 52-43 with 9:44 remaining.
That all changed when Jarrett returned to the floor and fueled a run that got her team back into the game. First, she made one of two free-throws to get the Lady Bears to within 58-57 at the 2:39 mark. Both teams then went through a scoreless stretch until Doyle canned a 10-foot baseline jumper with 39 seconds remaining to push the lead to 60-57.
Following a 30-seoond timeout, Jarrett worked an in-and-out, step-back move that resulted in a three-pointer that hit the bottom of the net with 24 seconds on the clock. Following a Howard timeout, the Lady Bison set up a shot for Doyle, who missed. After a frantic scramble, the ball ended up in Deterville's hands and the senior center laid the ball up on the backboard. The shot teasingly rolled around on the rim before settling in the net as the buzzer sounded.
“We got outrebounded all year long,” said Morgan State Coach Donald Beasley. “I just don't have the post that can go get rebounds. It went down to the wire. You can't get any better than that. You have to give them [Howard] credit. They're seniors, they crashed the boards and they wanted it.”
Carrington chipped in with 12 points for Morgan State and Smith tallied eight points.
“Since day 1 we talked about being here and winning it all,” said Carrington. “Just because a team is ranked higher than us, we still think we are the best team in the MEAC and we'll always think that. We knew coming in, the team they [Howard] played during the regular season wasn't the team they were going to play today.”
Doyle, a first-team All-MEAC selection, recorded a double-double of 23 points and 12 rebounds while Payne also finished with a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds to go along with four assists and two steals.
“It was a tough game and we are all happy that we were able to pull it out,” said Payne, second all-time in assists and steals in school history. “We have been here before so we just hung in there and fought through it. It was a good win.”
The Lady Bison (19-10), the number-three seed, will take on North Carolina A&T, the number two seed, in the March 15 semifinal at 2:30 p.m.