Howard wins first MEAC title in 21 years, earns NCAA berth
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — Destiny Howell scored a career-high 25 points and Howard captured its first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament championship and first NCAA Tournament berth in 21 years, beating Norfolk State on its home court, 61-44 on Saturday.
The Bison (20-9) earned their 20th win for the first time since the 2001 squad went to the NCAA tourney. Howard earned back-to-back MEAC regular season championships and reached the conference tournament finals for the second straight year.
Despite playing on their home court as tournament hosts, the Spartans had trouble shooting. They missed their first 16 3-point attempts and finished the game 2 of 24 from long range (8.3%). They hit just 15 of 65 shots from the field (23.1%). Compounding those troubles was Howard’s dominance on the boards, where the Bison held a 48-30 advantage.
Still, Norfolk State trailed by just four points heading into the fourth quarter.
Gia Thorpe and Anzhane’ Hutton both scored at the basket to start the final period for Howard before Camille Downs drilled the Spartans’ first 3-pointer to trail by five, 38-33. But Howard kept pulling away, little by little. A Hutton layup gave Howard a 10-point lead with 4:32 left and Howell’s layup with just over a minute to go pushed the lead to 57-41.
Howell hit 4 of 14 shots from long range and was a perfect 10 for 10 from the line.
Makoye Diawara finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds to lead Norfolk State (17-11). Downs contributed 10 points and six rebounds.
The teams split their regular season series with each team winning on its home floor.
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Norfolk State started the game 0-16 from behind the 3-point arc. Camille Downs knocked down the Spartans first 3 with 8:39 to play in the game.
Howard held a decided advantage on the boards
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