Howard beats UIW 55-51 in first women’s First Four game

NCAA_Incarnate_Word_Howard_Basketball_88604 Howard guard Gia Thorpe (13) celebrates a basket during the second half of a First Four game against Incarnate Word in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament Wednesday, March 16, 2022 in Columbia, S.C.
NCAA_Incarnate_Word_Howard_Basketball_58375 Howard forward Krislyn Marsh (32) drives against Incarnate Word guard Myra Bell (11) during the first half of a First Four game in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament Wednesday, March 16, 2022, in Columbia, S.C.
NCAA_Incarnate_Word_Howard_Basketball_09603 Howard forward Kaiya Creek (22) looks for a shot against Incarnate Word forward Jamie Means, left, during the first half of a First Four game in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament Wednesday, March 16, 2022, in Columbia, S.C.
NCAA_Incarnate_Word_Howard_Basketball_61838 Howard coach Ty Grace talks to players during the first half of the team's First Four game against Incarnate Word in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament Wednesday, March 16, 2022, in Columbia, S.C.
NCAA_Incarnate_Word_Howard_Basketball_89663 Incarnate Word guard Destiny Terrell (10) drives to the basket against Howard guard Kaniyah Harris (33) during the first half of a First Four game in the NCAA college basketball tournament Wednesday, March 16, 2022, in Columbia, S.C.
NCAA_Incarnate_Word_Howard_Basketball_36010 Incarnate Word forward Chloe Storer (13) and Howard forward Brooklynn Fort-Davis (24) wait for a rebound position during the first half of a First Four game in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament Wednesday, March 16, 2022, in Columbia, S.C.
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Brooklynn Fort-Davis had 15 points and 10 rebounds, Krislyn Marsh added 14 points and 17 rebounds and Howard beat fellow No. 16 seed Incarnate Word 55-51 on Wednesday night in the first women’s First Four game.

Howard (21-9), in its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2001, advanced to play overall No. 1 seed South Carolina (29-2) in the Greensboro Region.

Iyanna Warren made a floater in the lane and followed with a long jumper on Howard’s next possession to extend the lead to 47-42 with 4:53 left.

Fort-Davis ended Howard’s three-minute scoreless stretch with a shot under the basket for a 49-46 lead with 1:20 remaining. She added a basket at 43 seconds and a free throw with 35.8 left for a four-point lead. Kaniyah Harris gave Howard a seven-point lead in the closing seconds before Destiny Jenkins beat the final buzzer with a long 3-pointer.

Destiny Howell, the MEAC tournament most outstanding player, picked up two fouls in the first quarter and played just nine minutes in the first half before finishing the game with 11 points for Howard. The Bison shot just 30.9% from the field, but held a 53-34 advantage on the glass.

Tiana Gardner scored 16 points for Incarnate Word (13-17) in the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance. Jaaucklyn Moore, who led the Southland Conference at 17.6 points per game, added 14 points. Chloe Storer beat the third-quarter buzzer with a long 3-pointers, following an offensive rebound, to give Incarnate Word a 38-35 lead.

Howard missed 14 straight shots in the first half, going six-plus minutes without a point, before Fort-Davis’ putback ended the field-goal drought to get within 22-19. Howard shot just 28.6% in the first half, including 1 of 12 from 3-point range, but outrebounded Incarnate Word 27-15 to stay within 28-26 at the break.

Howell gave Howard its first lead, 35-33, since it was 17-15 with a steal and fast-break layup to snap her string of 10 straight misses with 1:36 left in the third quarter.

Howard and Incarnate Word are two of the four automatic qualifiers in the First Four games, after winning conference tournaments, as he NCAA expanded the tournament field to 68 teams.

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More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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