WILMINGTON – Howard trailed Ursuline early in the teams’ nonconference girls basketball game on Jan. 16, but the Lady Wildcats parlayed a strong first-half finish into a dominating third quarter on the way to a 40-32 win.
A mid-range jumper from Kay Wulah midway through the second quarter gave the Raiders an 18-5 lead, but those were the last points Ursuline would score in the half. Field goals from Ronnasia Blatch-Huggins, Na’leigha Wright and Jaymail Hollis in the closing minutes cut Howard’s halftime deficit to seven, 18-11.
The second half started well enough for the Raiders as Emily Rzucidlo banked in a three-pointer to extend the lead to 10. But the Lady Wildcats went to work offensively after that, pounding the ball inside over and over again as the Raiders could not stop the bleeding. Howard scored the next 14 points to take the lead for good. The Raiders, on the other hand, could not buy a bucket.
Blatch-Huggins and Wright had two field goals from in close, and Jaymail Hollis had two more to complete the first part of the run, closing the gap to 21-19. Wright went in for the tying layup after Ursuline’s Rzucidlo and Emma Raftovich collided going for a steal. Blatch-Huggins made a free throw to put her team in front, then added a three-point play. Wulah answered with an old-fashioned three-point play of her own with 1:40 to go in the third, ending the Raiders’ scoring drought at nearly six minutes.
The Lady Wildcats continued to go inside into the fourth quarter, scoring six of the first eight points. Ursuline finally regained some range from the outside, as Taelynn Brooks drained a pair of three-pointers to cut Howard’s lead to 38-32 with a few minutes to go. But they were unable to cut into that advantage any further.
Ursuline’s shooting was markedly better in the first half. Brooks and Avery Burns combined for three triples in the half, and Wulah gave them a mid-range presence. The Lady Wildcats, meanwhile, were misfiring from deep, and they committed numerous turnovers. In addition to turning to the inside game after the half, Howard took much better care of the basketball.
Brooks led the Raiders with nine points on three three-point shots. Wulah added seven. Ursuline (3-6) kicks off a five-game homestand on Saturday at 6:15 p.m. against St. Elizabeth.
Three Lady Wildcats reached double figures: Wright (13), Hollis (11) and Wright (10). Howard improved to 9-2 and also hosts St. Elizabeth in their next game, which is Tuesday at 4:45 p.m.