Howard University women's basketball coach Sanya Tyler doesn't really have a nickname for Darlene Beale. She has a mantra.

"I don't need a 6-foot-2 finesse player," Tyler said. "I need a bruiser. I need a Moses Malone. We call her Moses for that reason. She likes to drop step. She likes to get in there and mix it up."

More than anything else, however, Beale likes to rebound.

"It's my forte," said the senior from Brooklyn, N.Y. "It's my No. 1 priority and my goal this season is to be No. 1 in the country."

Right now, she is ranked third, with an average of 14.5 rebounds per game. Last season, she was second, with an average of 16.2 per game and a total of 459 -- the ninth-best single-season total since the NCAA began keeping women's basketball records in 1981-82.

With a career total of 1,468 rebounds, Beale has a chance of becoming one of the top 10 rebounders in women's college basketball history. When this season began, Dartmouth's Gail Koziara was 10th, with 1,635.

With a career total of 1,483 points, she has a chance of becoming just the 12th player in women's college basketball history to total 1,600 points and 1,600 rebounds.

In one game last season, against South Carolina State, she had 31 rebounds. In the 74 games in which she has played since her freshman season, she has had 15 or more rebounds 41 times. Over that same span, she has had fewer than 10 rebounds just seven times.

"It just happens," said Beale, who was the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference's player of the year the previous two seasons, holds more than 20 school records "The ball is shot and I get a position. It's just a sense."

Tyler concurs, with an explanation.

"She does nothing exceptional in boxing out. She jumps about six inches -- if you put her on a chair, she'd jump further going to the floor than from it. Darlene just has an incredible knack for movement toward the ball. She can be on the outside {of the lane} in the low post on one side, and then, when a shot goes up, float to the other side and be inside {the lane} on the other side before the other kid knows it.

"Darlene is incredibly strong. She sees the ball real well and, within a four-foot range, she's quicker than any point guard I've ever seen."

Which brings up a touchy area.

"In her mind, she is a 6-foot-2 point guard," Tyler said. "When you watch her in practice, she's always got the ball between her legs, behind her back, finger rolling. She has this aspiration of being 5 foot 6."

This, Tyler said, has helped Beale become "one of the softest-handed kids for her size in the country." But it also has led Beale to what Tyler calls "her biggest downfall."

"She tries to do things with her game that are totally against normal concepts," Tyler said. "In a power move, she sometimes looks to initiate other parts of her game. She needs to score. She needs to score for her and she needs to score for us."

The Bison are 9-8 so far this season. Beale has averaged 18.7 points in the victories, 14.6 in the defeats. Her overall scoring average is 16.6 points per game.

Beale, who did not start playing organized basketball until she was in ninth grade at Manhattan's Murray Bergtraum High School, said she was drawn to Howard by the warmth and "family atmosphere" of Tyler's program. Howard did not have the nation's best-known program and the MEAC champion did not automatically qualify for the NCAA tournament. But, as Beale said her mother told her, "You're going to appreciate going there in the end. Plus, sometimes it's better to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond."

Now, with the end of her collegiate career in sight, Beale has discovered her mother knew best. The MEAC champion still does not automatically advance to the NCAA tournament, but Beale has received national attention because Tyler has increased the difficulty of the Bison's schedule in each of Beale's four seasons.

When she was a freshman, the Bison played Holy Cross, Queens College and St. Peter's. This year, they have played Maryland, Duke, Georgia, James Madison -- each in the top 20 when the game was played -- and North Carolina State. Against those five teams, Beale averaged 15 points and 12 rebounds, just slightly below her season averages.

"Against stronger teams, her stats are consistent with her normal play and incredible against the caliber of player she's going against," Tyler said. "Ninety percent of the time, she plays against someone equal to her in height or taller. So, either other people have bogus players or she's an incredible person. I lean toward her being an incredible person."