Darlene Beale scored 27 points and got a game-high 17 rebounds to lead Howard to a 75-72 victory over Maryland-Eastern Shore today in the quarterfinals of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference women's tournament.
Second-seeded Howard (17-10), the defending tournament champion, advanced to Saturday's semifinals against Delaware State, which defeated Morgan State today, 90-82.
In the other two quarterfinals, South Carolina State rolled to an 80-33 victory over Coppin State, and Bethune-Cookman defeated North Carolina A&T, 75-52.
The Bison men also will be in action Saturday and Coach A.B. Williamson should feel confident going into their 5 p.m. semifinal game against Maryland-Eastern Shore at the Civic Center. UMES upset Delaware State, 75-64, in a quarterfinal game today, but Howard has defeated the Hawks 10 straight times.
Howard finished second in the conference in the regular season with an 11-3 mark. But the Bison (18-9 overall) have lost three of their last four games.
Going into the postseason, Williamson said, "Some guys are playing more minutes than usual because we need certain things from them at this stage. For instance, Fred Hill has to score more for us at the guard spot and Robert McIlwaine has to come through for us inside. He is still hobbling some from a sprained ankle and a bruised knee. If he's not in good shape, it'll be tight for us."
Top-seeded North Carolina A&T won the MEAC regular-season title with an 12-2 mark. The Aggies' opponent in Saturday's other semifinal will be Bethune-Cookman, a 92-85 winner over South Carolina State in tonight's final game.
North Carolina A&T has defeated Howard four consecutive times in the tournament final to earn the automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.