NCCU women one-and-done at MEAC Tournament

Mar. 11, 2014 @ 08:58 PM

The 3-pointer N.C. Central’s Jessica Freeman hit with 1:01 left against Howard amounted to a replay that summarized her lone season as a Lady Eagle.

That basket put the final points on the scoreboard in No.8 Howard’s 74-59 win in Round 1 of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament at Norfolk Scope Arena on Tuesday.

Freeman’s bucket cut Howard’s lead to 15 points.

Once again, the Eagles, the ninth seed, needed Freeman to heave 3s in order to salvage the game, but time ran out.

The clock also expired on Freeman’s college career.

“It’s hard knowing that this is my last game,” Freeman said. “It just wasn’t the outcome that we wanted.”

NCCU senior forward Tiffany Gary wrapped up her college career, too. She was in early foul trouble against Howard and had to go to the bench.

Referees whistled NCCU junior forward Racquel Davis (17 points, 9 rebounds) for quick fouls, too, so the Lady Eagles had to get more minutes than usual from the team’s reserve players. That allowed Howard to clean the backboards, NCCU coach Vanessa Taylor said.

In the second half, Howard had the ball when Taylor saw some Xs and Os developing that spelled bad news for NCCU.

“Close the lane! Close the lane!” Taylor shouted from the bench.

The Eagles didn’t recover in time, and Sydni Johnson scored from close range.

Gary scored, getting NCCU within 13 points with 4:16 ultimately left in her NCCU career and Freeman’s.

Johnson (12 points) got in the lane for another basket. She was wide open.

Then Te’Shya Heslip (11 points) hit a layup.

“We were closing soft to shooters,” Taylor said. “We were a little bit on our heels because of a couple of quick fouls that some of our personnel picked up out of position with those times, and it allowed Howard some great looks and they nailed them. They nailed them.”

Howard shot 54.2 percent from the field.

“We wanted to make it a point to try to work inside out. I thought we had really good ball movement,” Howard coach Tennille Adams said. “We had five different players in double digits. We shared the ball extremely well. I think the kids got the shots that they wanted where they wanted them, and, more importantly, we knocked them down.”

Howard made 75 percent of its 3s (6 of 8).

NCCU (11-19) attempted just four more shots than Howard (11-19) but wasn’t as efficient as the Bison. The Eagles shot 40.4 percent.

Freeman (17 points, 3 assists) made 6 of 16 attempts from the field and said Scope’s cavernous feel did not create issues with depth perception and throw off her shot.

Taylor made no excuses for the rest of the team.

“As long we show up and they throw a basketball out there, and it’s not a football or volleyball, we’re ready,” Taylor said. “It’s an extremely tough moment anytime your season comes to an end. As a coach, certainly you want it to last forever, and our ride is over at this moment.”


1st Round, MEAC Tournament

No. 9 N.C. CENTRAL (11-19) — Freeman, Jessica 6-16 2-2 17; Davis, Racquel 8-17 1-4 17; Jones, Morgan 3-5 2-4 9; Gary, Tiffany 2-4 3-4 7; Conerly, Khyra 1-5 4-6 6; Dixon, Tisha 1-3 1-2 3; Clement, Tia 0-0 0-0 0; Hynes, Alexus 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 21-52 13-22 59.

No. 8 HOWARD (11-19) — Duckett, Shavonne 4-5 5-6 15; Brown, Cheyenne 6-9 0-0 14; Johnson, Sydni 4-5 4-7 12; Heslip, Te’shya 5-11 1-1 11; Hill, Jasmine 3-5 2-2 10; Gonzalez, Victoria 3-9 3-3 9; Johnson, Cabria 1-2 0-0 2; Majors, Tasia 0-1 1-2 1; Stinson, Regis 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-48 16-21 74.

N.C. Central     27     32 — 59

Howard     36     38 — 74

3-point goals — NCCU 4-9 (Freeman3-7; Jones 1-1; Hynes 0-1), Howard 6-8 (Brown 2-3; Hill 2-2; Duckett 2-2; Stinson 0-1). Fouled Out — N.C. Central, Conerly; Howard, None. Rebounds — NCCU 30 (Davis 9), Howard 32 (Johnson 11). Assists — NCCU 9 (Freeman 3; Conerly 3), Howard 11 (Heslip 3). Total Fouls—NCCU 17, Howard 16. Technical Fouls—NCCU none, Howard none.