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BOWIE — The Bowie State University (BSU) women’s basketball team opened up the season on fire but entered a matchup against Elizabeth City State University hoping to rebound from losing three of its last four games. Thanks to splendid performances by forwards Kyaja Williams and Dynaisha Christian, it did.
Williams, once again, played with tenacity and focus to score a team-high 20 points to go along with nine rebounds, three assists and four blocks, while Christian came up big with 15 points and a game-high 10 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs to a cozy 70-53 win over the Vikings at A.C. Jordan Arena on Feb. 2.
BSU’s recent losses to Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Northern Division opponents Lincoln (Jan. 19, 66-61), Virginia Union (Jan. 23, 52-51) and Virginia State (Jan. 30, 53-51) have only been by an average margin of a little less than three points.
To begin a new month with a win over a divisional opponent by such a wide margin was a timely confidence booster, Head Coach Shadae Swan said.
“Out of our last five games have been close games, so us getting a victory with a point spread this wide – I think it gave the young ladies confidence,” Swan said.
“It kind of re-energized us, and I think it helped. Now we know we can score because you know the last couple of games we’ve been scoring about 40, 50 points. So we know that we can put the points on the board, so I think that’ll help to carry over for the next couple of games.”
Christian shot 6-of-9 from the field and 3 of 3 from the free throw line after a combined 8-of-33 field goal shooting in the previous four games. The junior forward snagged four offensive boards in the second half to help Bowie improve to 17-4 overall, 9-3 in the CIAA and 2-3 in Northern Division play.
“She had a big game. I think that was huge for her. Her last couple of games, she’s been struggling, so that’s what we expect from her,” Swan said of Christian’s performance.
Christian said energy, effort and execution were the keys to victory.
“I just tried to put the last game out of my head,” Christian said.
“(My goal was) just to go out here and focus on making my layups and playing good defense.”
BSU’s early full-court press was unsuccessful, Swan added, so it switched to a solid half-court defensive set in the second quarter to slow ECSU down in transition and build a lead, therefore taking control of the game.
Bowie turned a 14-13 deficit at the end of the first to a 35-27 lead at halftime, which then swelled to 64-41 with 4:50 remaining in the fourth. By that point, the Bulldogs had virtually sealed the win.
Bowie’s primary ball handlers, guards Chyna Butler and Shawnkia McCallum, easily penetrated the gaps in ECSU’s 2-3 zone to make scoring plays and keep their team ahead for most of the final 30 minutes.
Forward Talanya Hutton contributed with 10 points, while McCallum and Butler combined for 15 points and nine assists for the Bulldogs.
BSU cruised to victory without one of its leaders, Pere Alexander. The senior forward is recovering from a broken hand injury, which has sidelined her since the Bulldogs played Virginia State on Jan. 30. She said she hopes to return against Lincoln University on Feb. 9.
ECSU forward Naterria Luster led all scorers with 23 points and grabbed six rebounds. Jalyn Brown added 16 points as the Vikings lost their second straight.
“I feel like we could’ve done better on offense and defense – especially on defense. It just wasn’t our game on defense,” Luster said.
“We didn’t play with no heart. We didn’t play like we wanted it.”
The Vikings fall to 13-10 overall, 5-7 in conference play and 2-3 in divisional play with the loss.
“We did not play up to par today. We’ve had a solid season thus far, and we did not put forth the effort we should have for an important road game within the Northern Division standings,” Coach Antonio Davis said, adding that his team blew the opportunity to extend their lead in the second quarter by missing some rotations on defense.
“But give great thanks and congratulations to Bowie, and Coach (Swan) did a great job today, so we want to congratulate them.”