Coach Craig O'Connell knew his fourth-ranked Howard Lions were a fine team when they headed to Glenelg last night, but after the Lions suddenly turned a tight game into a 61-37 rout, O'Connell seemed as overwhelmed as the No. 11 Gladiators.
"I'm shocked, that's how impressed I am with this team," O'Connell said. "I thought they were going to be down tonight because they are so physically tired. I can't give them enough credit. I love these guys, and I've got the best seat in the house to watch them."
The fireworks began with 3 minutes, 33 seconds left in the third quarter, with Howard (14-2, 7-1) clinging to a 28-27 lead. The Gladiators (11-5, 5-3) had just scored six straight points, forcing Howard to call a timeout.
Howard wasted no time firing back. The Lions went on a 9-2 run to take a 37-29 lead at the end of the period. Howard then scored 24 points in the fourth quarter, outscoring Glenelg 18-4, in the final five minutes.
"In close games, some teams wilt," O'Connell said. "But our team keeps working and working, and all of a sudden they've got a big lead. I kept waiting for us to get tired, but it never happened."
Instead, Glenelg wore out. The Gladiators were coming off a demoralizing, 61-49 defeat by top-ranked Mount Hebron. In that game, Glenelg held a six-point lead midway through the fourth period, before the Vikings outscored them, 18-0.
Howard, with an advantage in quickness, hit the Gladiators from all angles. Freshman forward Mona Jackson led all scorers with 17 points, including eight in the fourth period. Junior guard Sharon Ford scored 14, including 10 in the second half. Senior center Krista Fulton had 12.
Junior point guard Camille Powell did most of the rest. Although she scored only six points, Powell sparked a defense that created many of Glenelg's 25 turnovers -- 16 in the second half -- and held Glenelg guard Tanissa Dorsey (12 points) to four points after the first period. Dorsey began the game leading the county with a 19-point average.