Brooklynn Fort-Davis completed a 3-point play with 1.8 seconds remaining to lift Howard to a 62-60 come-from-behind win over Maryland Eastern Shore Friday in the semifinals of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament.
The Lady Hawks’ final attempt to pull out the win was well off the mark.
Fort-Davis’ play completed a wild finish which featured three lead changes in the final 15 seconds and sent Howard to the MEAC championship game for the third consecutive season. The Bison (16-13) won last year’s tournament and the league’s automatic berth to the NCAA Championship.
Saturday’s title game, live on ESPN+ and re-aired on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. on ESPNU, will be a rematch of the 2022 final against top-seed Norfolk State.
Howard trailed by as many as 11 points and faced a seven-point deficit entering the final quarter.
Aziah Hudson had 15 points and three steals to lead the Bison effort. Destiny Howell, whose 3-pointer with 2:27 remaining gave Howard a 55-54 edge, contributed 11 points, and Kaniyah Harris added 10 along with eight rebounds.
Krislyn Marsh had nine rebounds to lead the Bison effort on the boards.
UMES, which had a gutsy effort fall just short, ended its campaign at 10-20. The Hawks were led by Mahogany Lester with 14 points and seven rebounds. Mya Thomas, whose short jumper gave UMES a 58-56 advantage with 44.1 seconds to play, contributed 12 points and four boards, while Ja’la Bannerman had 11 points in the loss.
Howard, which scored the game’s first seven points, was ahead by just two points – 14-12 – after one quarter. The Lady Hawks tied the contest to start the second period, on a basket by Zamara Haynes, who finished with seven points for UMES.
Kaiya Creek’s basket regained the lead for Howard at 16-14 with 9:06 left on the second-period clock, but the underdog Lady Hawks went on a 12-3 run to build a 26-16 edge when Lester nailed two free throws at the 4:13 mark of the period.
UMES led 34-28 at the half.
A 12-9 run to start the third put head coach Fred Batchelor’s squad ahead 48-38 after a Haynes 3-pointer with 11.5 seconds, however, Hudson answered with a three in the final seconds to close the game to 48-41 after three periods.
It took the favored Bison less than three minutes into the final period to deadlock the contest at 48-all, the first tie in second half.
Cache Wilson, who had nine points for UMES, connected from long range for a 51-48 Lady Hawk lead with 7:13 showing and there were four lead changes before a Fort-Davis free throw deadlocked the contest at 56-56 with 58.6 seconds remaining.
Thomas put the Lady Hawks ahead 58-56 on a short jumper but Harris’ incredible 3-pointer with the shot clock running down, gave Howard a 59.7 lead, setting other the wild finish, which featured two more lead changes in the final 10.4 seconds.