Before the Catholic University Invitational women's basketball tournament started Friday night, Howard was the fifth-seeded team and Blondell Curnell was in the stands.
Last night at Brookland Gym, Howard, led by Curnell, registered its third upset in three nights and won the tournament. It scored a 74-55 victory over a George Washington team whose coach, Lin Gehlert, announced her resignation yesterday after not being present for any tournament games because of a feud with her players.
Curnell, at 5-foot-1, was the smallest player in the tournament. But she might have made the biggest probation Saturday, the sophomore point guard, nicknamed B.B., scored 15 points and had seven assists in just 23 minutes.
There was no better measure of her worth than in the second half. GW, which had trailed by 20 in the first half, had pulled within 11 with 13 minutes to play. Then Curnell came off the bench. A running one-hander, a drive through the GW zone and her general presence on the court inspired Howard to a 21-point lead, 58-37, with eight minutes left.
The Bison (9-13) came out firing. Running off 13 straight points, Howard led, 15-2, in less than seven minutes and maintained that edge for a 40-26 halftime lead.
Howard shot 52 percent in the half and had just six turnovers, compared to GW's 13.
"The girls took high percentage shots, they wereon and they were confident," Howard Coach Sanya Tyler said. "We knew we would win. We thought we won the championship when we beat the No. 1 seed (Mount St. Mary's)."
Ella Hughes and tournament most valuable player Julie Murphy scored 13 points each and Debra Davis had 10 in Howard's fourth straight win.
For GW, the difference was the play of its front line. In the Colonials' semifinal win over Loyola Saturday, forward Leslie Bond had 29 points. But Howard held her to just 10, while front court mates Trish Egan and Carol Byrd managed 18 points between them. Since GW gets the bulk of its scoring from the forwards, it wasn't enough.
"We were tired and I think we were drained," said Luke Ruppel, who took over for Gehlert before the tournament. "Without the emotional stuff, we would have been sharper. Our heads weren't completely in the game because of outside factors."