In a rematch of the 2022 MEAC women’s basketball championship game, the Norfolk State Spartans exact revenge on the Howard Bison, winning 56-52.
Not only do the Spartans claim the MEAC title, but they also punch their ticket to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2002.
Niya Fields and Makoye Diaware each contributed 11 points for the Spartans. They picked up the slack for their leading scorer Camille Downs who sat most of the game in foul trouble before finishing with six points and seven rebounds.
Howard’s Destiny Howell was the star of the game, finishing with a game-high 30 points and connecting on a spectacular eight 3-pointers.
The Bison’s defensive pressure caused problems for the Spartans resulting in eight turnovers and was the difference in a 30-29 halftime lead.
In the first half, Howell had the hot hand scoring 21 of the team’s 30 points, including 14 points in the second quarter.
Norfolk State turned the momentum in their favor in the third quarter outscoring Howard 12-5 to take a 41-35 lead into the fourth.
The Spartans kept building on their third-quarter run pushing their lead to 10 points. Howard, however, would not go away trimming the lead to just three points with 41 seconds left.
Missed free throws down the stretch on both sides were key in keeping this game close.
With 20 seconds remaining in the game, Niya Fields made two free throws to make the score 51-46. Howell responded by making a 3-pointer and was fouled on the play but missed the free throw to keep the score 51-49.
Fields again made two free throws leading to Howell coming down and connecting on another 3- pointer to make it a one-point game.
Heading back to the free throw line, Fields this time split them to keep the lead at two. With a chance to score off the miss, Howard was called for a travel and the Spartans escaped with the win.