The Howard University (HU) women’s basketball team dropped a 59-56 decision to the University of Virginia (UVA) in first-round action at the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (NIT).

The Lady Bison will end the 2011-12 campaign with a 24-9 overall mark tying the program’s record for most wins in a single season. The game also marks the first post-season bid for HU since 2001.

Redshirt junior forward Saadia Doyle tallied her 15th double-double of the season with 16 points and a season-best 14 rebounds in 45 minutes of action. Junior guard Tamoria Holmes tallied her 31st consecutive double-digit performance with 17 points. Junior forward Kara Smith chipped in with eight points, while junior guard Cheyenne Curley-Payne recorded seven.

The first half was a tightly contested affair as both teams struggled offensively. HU gained a slim 13-12 advantage at the 7:03 mark off a Smith shot from behind the arc. UVA went on an 8-3 run to close the period with a 21-16 margin at the half – the largest deficit for either team.

In the second period, the Cavs were leading 34-26 at the 13:05 mark, before a Holmes triple ignited a 13-4 run over a six-plus span to take a 39-38 lead with just under seven minutes remaining.

From there, both team exchanged baskets. A free throw by Cavs junior guard Lexie Gerson tied it at 50-50 with 20 seconds on the clock. The Lady Bison had three opportunities within the last six seconds of regulation to win the contest, but was unable to convert on those attempts.

In the extra period, senior guard Zykia Brown hit a three-pointer at the four minute mark to open up scoring for a slim 53-50 edge. UVA took the lead with two consecutive baskets for a 54-53 score at 2:35. The Cavaliers pushed the lead to four, 57-53, but a Holmes three cut it down to one with just over a minute left. Two at the stripe by Gerson put UVA back up by three. Holmes attempted a three as time expired, but it missed as Virginia gave the Lady Bison their ninth loss of the season.

Both teams struggled from the field as the Lady Bison were held to 29 percent shooting (20-for-29), and the Cavs a 33.3 percent clip (19-for-57). HU scored 13 points off 12 Cavalier miscues. Howard also won the battle of the boards 52-44.

For UVA, Gerson recorded 18 points. Senior guard Ariana Moorer and sophomore guard Ataira Franklin tallied 14 and 13 points, respectively.


Jamilah Corbitt

Special to the AFRO