Bethune-Cookman Overcomes Slow Start to Beat Savannah State
NORFOLK, Va., March 8, 2017–Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Coach of the Year Vanessa Blair-Lewis and the Bethune-Cookman (B-CU) Wildcats overcame a slow first half to knock off No. 8 Savannah State, 53-43, inside the Norfolk Scope Arena.
B-CU (20-9) held the Tigers to only 25 percent (15-of-60) from the floor, led by MEAC Defensive Player of the Year Kailyn Williams. The New Orleans native recorded a team-high 11 boards while rejecting six shots in the victory.
After taking a 20-14 halftime advantage, B-CU increased the lead to double-digits with a jumper from Emily Williams at the 7:38 mark, 26-15. Bethune-Cookman kept the pressure on and ballooned the lead as much as 16 points after a fast-break layup by Ashanti Hunt, 35-19. SSU trailed after three, 37-23.
Early in the fourth quarter, All-MEAC selection Taylor Houston made a layup and gave the Wildcats its largest lead of the game, 41-23, with 8:33 remaining.
SSU’s head coach Cedric Baker and the Tigers refused to go away as they went into a full court press; thus, slowly chipping away at the deficit.
At the 2:55 mark, Savannah State’s Kenyata Hendrix, All-MEAC honoree, made two free throws and trimmed the margin down to single-digits, 45-37. Moments later, SSU’s Lauren “Gabby” Moss connected on a jumper, followed by two more freebies from Hendrix made the contest 45-41 with 1:17 left.
With less than a minute remaining, B-CU’s Kendra Cooper, All-MEAC First Team selection, drilled a clutch trey ball down the stretch to hold off Savannah State’s late charge, 53-43.
Cooper led the way with a game-high 20 points, including four long balls. Houston netted 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field.
Houston’s trey ball gave the Wildcats their first lead of the contest, 6-5, at the 4:45 mark. Bethune-Cookman held a two-point advantage after one, 11-9.
Midway through the second, Hendrix split a pair of free throws and pulled the Tigers within one, 15-14. In the final five minutes before halftime, Savannah State was held scoreless; thus, B-CU took advantage and held a 20-14 lead into intermission.