BOWIE – The Bowie State University women’s basketball team (BSU) is rolling, largely due to the immense contributions of standout forward Kyaja Williams.
The senior poured in a season-high 21 points along with a career-high 17 rebounds – her fourth straight double-double performance this season – to help the Bulldogs to an overwhelming 67-37 home win against Claflin University on Dec. 14.
The 30-point victory was Bowie State’s biggest win of the year as it remains the only undefeated team in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) with a record of 9-0 overall and 2-0 in conference action.
The game began with a few turnovers on both sides, but Claflin got on the board first on a lay-in by center Breanna Price. Then, BSU forward Talanya Hutton responded with a corner 3-pointer and a jumper from the top of the key to put the Bulldogs on top.
Forward Dynaisha Christian followed up with three straight putback layups on her way to scoring eight first-quarter points. Bowie continued to force turnovers and convert on the offensive end to take a 20-11 lead after the first.
BSU opened the second quarter on an 11-0 run to create a 20-point lead, 31-11, with 3:15 left in the quarter after an easy bucket by Williams, who had 10 points and four rebounds by halftime. Claflin (0-9, 0-1 CIAA) was held to seven points in the second to trail the Bulldogs 35-18 at the break.
Claflin tried to hang tough throughout the third quarter, rallying behind guard Dionna Long. The 5-foot-4 sophomore used shifty moves to slice through Bowie defenders and score as she led the Panthers with 20 points, five rebounds and four steals. But BSU’s massive rebounding advantage (59 to 29) prevented Claflin from piecing together any game-changing scoring runs.
The Panthers threw a few trap and press defenses at the Bulldogs throughout the game. However, because of missed rotations, BSU was able to easily advance the ball down the court on numerous possessions for easy baskets.
“Tonight, I didn’t think we came out and executed the assignments that we discussed. I felt like Bowie did what they were going to do,” said Claflin Head Coach Revonda Whitley.
“They’re a quality team and so we just had to bear down a little bit harder and I think our effort just wasn’t there tonight.”
In the second half, Williams grabbed 13 rebounds to record her fifth double-double of the season as BSU outscored its opponent 21-9 in the fourth quarter en route to the comfortable conference win. The Bulldogs continued to break down Claflin’s defense in the fourth quarter, using constant ball movement to get easy breakaway points. An 18-point advantage in the third quarter grew to a 31-point lead for BSU with about six minutes left in the game.
“I think we played great team basketball. Everybody went out, played defense, we passed the ball well, we communicated and moved well on defense,” Bowie State Head Coach Shadae Swan said after the win.
“I think it was an overall great team win.”
While Williams may be relatively undersized for her position, the Baltimore native has found a way to average 14.2 points and 10.1 rebounds a contest to lead Bowie State.
“Majority of the times I know that I can outjump a lot of people, so it’s more like a timing thing,” Williams said of her rebounding ability. “Also it comes with just hustling, wanting to go get it honestly; just going to get the ball.”
Swan, now in her fifth season as head of the program, values the energy and aggression that Williams brings day in and day out.
“She’s like a little energizer bunny. She always comes out with a lot of energy, like she’s the motor that keeps us going,” Swan said of Williams, who shot a perfect 7 of 7 from the free-throw line and added three steals and three blocks.
“So, no matter what – whether she’s having a great game or a bad day – we know that she’s going to come out, that she’s going to play defense, she’s going to rebound…I don’t think there’s anyone who can match her heart, and she goes out every day and leaves it on the court.”
Christian chipped in with 14 points and seven rebounds for BSU while guard Drew Calhoun scored 10 to go with seven boards.
The win came in the first of five straight home games for the Bulldogs. Bowie State earned a 62-50 win against Livingstone on Dec. 16 and will host Fayetteville State University on Dec. 21 before taking a break for the holidays.