BOWIE – Kiara Colston was on fire, and nobody could stop her.
With less than a minute remaining in the third quarter, the five-foot-eight senior point guard fired off a three-pointer, despite being guarded by Shaw University forward KlinTisha Martin. After the shot sank through the hoop, Colston mimicked her shooting motion, celebrating with 541 fans in attendance.
“(Martin) was in my face but I still made it,” Colston said. “I felt good about it. We went on a run, so I was excited.”
Colston’s shot did more than just extend a substantial lead. It was an early dagger from the Bowie State women’s basketball team before finishing off a triumphant run to end the third quarter.
She scored a season-high of 23 points to lead the Bowie State University Lady Bulldogs to their 10th victory this season, defeating Shaw, 73-49, on Jan. 6.
The senior’s breakout performance was slowly building up to this point according to Bowie State University Head Coach Shadae Swan. Colston had only scored in the double-figures six times in the first 12 games of the season.
Colston was instructed to be more of a facilitator to start the year, but Swan granted her the opportunity to become a dual threat.
“Both of us had a conversation, telling her that she can do both, so the past two games, she has been taking more shots,” Swan said. “By her passing the ball, she has been getting open shots as teams are looking for her to pass and not just to score now.”
Accompanied by Colston’s 10-point third quarter performance was Bowie State’s best scoring stretch, going on a 19-6 run with five different players contributing to their effort.
Swan credits the growing number of scoring options to the number of players, from eight student-athletes two years ago to 16 today, who bring an array of talents for different offensive strategies.
“We have a lot of different threats (this year), and everyone has improved in significant ways,” Bowie State guard Kyah Proctor said. “(Colston and I) are not the only ones that can score and we know that, so it gives us a chance to breathe.”
The depth was tested early in the game as Bowie State (10-3) struggled to establish any scoring rhythm, going 11-for-30 from the field in the first half.
Midway through the first quarter, Bowie State forward Sade Chatman blocked a Shaw player’s jumper, collected the ball and ran down the length of the court for a layup.
Combined with guard Ty-Nita Baker’s five points off the bench jumpstarted an early 10-1 run, giving the Lady Bulldogs an early 15-9 advantage.
Rebounding, especially on the offensive side, was key for the Lady Bulldogs in extending their lead. They outrebounded their opponents 47-40.
Bowie State took the advantage, scoring 17 points off of the second chance opportunities.
Proctor, who usually teams up with Colston for the bulk of the team’s offense, could only muster 14 points but led the team in rebounding with seven boards.
“That’s the good thing about having (Proctor and Colston) for three years because I can always depend on one of them to have a big game,” Swan said jokingly. “They feed off of each other, and if one is down, the other picks up the slack.”
While Bowie State was able to find ways to negate their shooting woes, Shaw (3-12) failed to capitalize on sophomore Lervencia Johnson-Tyler’s double-double performance. While the forward scored 21 points and collected 10 rebounds, the rest of the Lady Bears were flat, scoring only 29.4 percent of their field goal attempts.
Their inability to score down the stretch couldn’t contain the Lady Bulldogs’ lead, which grew as high as 24. The victory is Bowie State’s third-straight win in a row and their second coming off a two-week winter break.
The early season success is a continuation of last season’s 20-8 finish with the goal of being better than competitive in the Northern Division of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA).
Despite the team’s growing depth, building cohesiveness and correcting mistakes will be vital in boosting Bowie State’s play and leading them to postseason success.
“Ever since (Proctor and I) have been here together, we never beat Shaw,” Colston said. “It was an emotional game, but now that we know that we can beat them, we can beat anybody.”