NORFOLK, Va. – The seventh-seeded South Carolina State women's basketball team had three players score in double figures en route to winning its opening-round game in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament at The Scope on Tuesday.
The Lady Bulldogs were led by Taylor Brown with a game-high 17 points and a game-high 12 rebounds to grab a 62-53 win over 10th-seeded Savannah State.
Also in double digits for the Lady Bulldogs were Rhein Bowman with 15 points and Jakayvea Akins with 10 points. Coach Audra Smith’s team, which improved to 16-15, earned a spot in Wednesday’s quarterfinals against second-seeded Maryland Eastern Shore at 2 p.m.
“We are happy to be moving on after my first MEAC tournament game,” said Smith. “Savannah State is a scrappy team and played hard, but I’m proud of the effort of my team. We knew we would have to stop their penetration, so we played a zone most of the game and were able to hold them in check until about midway the fourth quarter when they got things going on offense.
“Our approach was to be tough mentally and match their intensity, as we had just lost to them at home a few days ago, when they really hurt us with penetration. We did a much better job this time.”
Savannah State, making its last appearance in the MEAC, also had three players reach double-digit scoring. Myasia Jones had 14 points to lead the Lady Tigers before fouling out with just under eight minutes to play. Robbi Allen came off the bench for 13 points and Heniaya Moton added 11 points in the loss for Coach Cedric Baker’s squad, which played without one of its top players, Alexxus Sowell, who had a medical issue.
“I commend our players for their effort,” Baker said. “We played without Alexxus Sowell, one of our top players. Despite her absence and having a team with eight freshman, we gave a great effort and put up a good fight.
"We won the turnover battle and shot well from the free throw line, but we dug a hole early before fighting back at the end.”
In earning the win, the Lady Bulldogs avenged a 65-64 home loss to Savannah State on Mar. 7. Smith’s team survived 23 turnovers and a poor effort (19-32) from the free throw line to get the victory.
SC State took an early 9-3 lead in the contest on an inside basket by Brown with 6:48 on the first-period clock. The Lady Bulldogs went on to a 17-10 lead after the first quarter. The Lady Bulldogs, employing a zone defense to cut off the penetration by the Lady Tigers, were up 27-19 at the half.
Smith’s team took a 34-21 lead on an Akins’ 3-pointer with just under five minutes left in the third period, which ended with the favorites ahead 45-34. The Lady Tigers, who struggled from the field against the SC State zone, finally got their offense going.
Sparked by the play of Allen, Savannah State used a 16-7 run to start the final period to pull to within 52-50, when Allen (who had nine points during the run) completed a 3-point play with 3:46 on the clock.
SC State took a timeout to regroup and scored 10 straight points, all but two coming from the charity stripe, to build a 62-50 edge with just 16.3 seconds left. The Lady Tigers got a 3-pointer from Moton to make the final 62-53.
SC State owned a big edge on the boards, grabbing 44 rebounds to just 28 for the Tigers. The Lady Bulldogs also outpointed Savannah State from the field, nailing 41.3 percent (19-46) of their attempts to just 29.8 (17-57) by the Lady Tigers.