MALIBU, Calif. – The Howard University (HU) Lady Bison women’s basketball team returned to the winner’s circle with a 55-51 victory over the Pepperdine University (PU) Waves on Dec. 21 in Malibu, Calif.

The Lady Bison earned its fifth victory with an outstanding performance that began with 10:06 left in the second half, as HU snapped a six-point deficit on a 9-3 run guided by senior guard Saadia Doyle.

By the 5:09 mark, the contest reached its fifth tie for a score of 47-47. But with a trip to the free-throw line by Doyle, HU regained the lead.

PU came within one point off a jumper at the 2:58 mark, but a 6-3 run in the final minutes of play leveraged Howard to a 55-51 victory.

In a game played in the early afternoon, the contest went back-and-forth with Howard and Pepperdine varying between four ties and HU taking a five-point margin lead on four occasions.

“Howard defense is our way of life and we knew the only way to stay in the contest was to defend,” said Geckeler about the first half. “We weren’t hitting shots so I knew the only way to weather the storm was to get stops until our shots started to fall.”

With 41 seconds left in the first half, the score was tied until Pepperdine sophomore guard Grace Baughn dropped a three-pointer to end the first half with 30-27 edge.

“We talked about energy, sense of urgency and turning it up a notch,” Geckeler said she told the team during the halftime intermission.”Kara Smith is our team catalyst and she really got them going early on in the second half.”

The Waves retained the lead well into the second half, until the 5:09 mark, when Howard broke the tie and took the win.

Howard advances to 5-5 on the season, while Pepperdine drops to 3-7 on the season.

In 40 minutes of play, Howard outscored Pepperdine in the paint (22-6) and dominated in turnovers, 19-10, and on second-chance baskets, 18-9, despite higher field and free-throw shooting percentages by Pepperdine.

HU’s Doyle notched her fourth double-double of the season with 25 points and 10 rebounds, while classmate and California native Cheyenne Curley-Payne, a senior guard, gathered 11 points and season-high six rebounds and senior forward Nicole Deterville tallied a career-high five blocks.

Statistically, the Lady Bison shot 27 percent from the field, 17 percent from the long-range and 78 percent from the charity stripe (season-best team outing from the free- throw line).

“This was a great win on the road after our last heartbreaking lost,” said head women’s basketball coach Niki Reid Geckeler. “At this time of the season you want to continue to get better and prepare yourself for conference play.”

“We really impressed upon the team to stay focused,” said Geckeler. “We had some really good looks on the offensive end we just weren’t capitalizing. We also continued to stress defense. We needed our defense to generate our offense.”
The Lady Bison conclude the calendar year with a Dec. 30 game against Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio, at 2:00 p.m.

Ariel V. Germain

AFRO Staff Writers