No. 3 Winston-Salem State 86, No. 11 St. Augustine’s 57
Winston-Salem State put on an absolute offensive clinic to coast past St. Augustine’s in the CIAA Tournament quarterfinal at Royal Farms Arena on Thursday night.
Javonte Cooke exploded for 31 points, going 7-of-9 from the 3-point line, and collected eight rebounds to lift the Rams to a 86-57 rout of SAU.
The CIAA Basketball Tournament Day 3 finale between the Rams and the Falcons drew the largest crowd. WSSU is coming off a conference title run in 2020 when the tournament was last held in Charlotte, N.C., and the program returns to the highly awaited week of competition looking to defend its CIAA crown.
WSSU’s Javonte Cooke put in a triple to open the game followed by a nine-foot jumper to help his team to an early 11-4 lead. The Rams shot exceptionally from deep to create a three-possession lead for a good chunk of the first half.
SAU forward Kyshon Tate, one of the few Baltimore natives participating in the tournament, played sporadic minutes due to foul trouble and finished with four boards.
“Just coming back home, it felt real good. I got to show the guys what it’s like to be in the city of Baltimore and the love that the city has for the game of basketball, and they felt it,” Tate said, reflecting on his tournament experience.
“It was just fun being here, and me being from here, I felt the love from family and friends.”
Cooke knocked down a pair of free throws to tally 15 first-half points, also giving the Rams a 37-26 cushion at intermission. By that point in the contest, were shooting a sizzling 62.5 percent from beyond the arc and better than 50 percent from the field on 10 assists.
Conversely, SAU was shooting 38.5 percent on 10-of-26 shooting. They left the lockers aiming to reverse that trend in the second half, but it was difficult to put together a rally when Cooke continued his red-hot streak with three triples in the first five minutes. The 6-foot-6 guard scored the Rams’ first 11 points in the second half and wound up winning Food Lion MVP of the Game.
Moving the ball quickly around the perimeter coupled with drives and dishes for quality looks seemed to be the bread-and-butter of WSSU’s offensive strategy for the night.
A breakaway two-handed slam by Xavier Fennell inflated WSSU’s lead to 17 inside of the 9:00 mark. Dhashon Dyson led the Falcons offensively, finishing with 12 points and four assists. Josh Page scored 14 for SAU.
Samage Teel provided a major spark for WSSU’s offense late in the game, putting up _ points in the second half to help guide his team to the victory. With five minutes to go, the Rams commanded a 20-point lead to put the game out of reach for the Falcons.
Shots just weren’t falling for SAU, and it was unable to match its opponents high-volume offensive output to conclude its season at 7-21 overall.
Winston-Salem State advances to the next round for semifinal match against No. 2 Virginia Union scheduled to tip off on Friday at 8 p.m.
No. 4 Johnson C. Smith, No. 12 Livingstone
Daijah Turner netted 14 points, including the two game-winning free throws, and Andresia Alexander poured in 10 points, five rebounds and five steals to propel the Livingstone women’s basketball team to a close 50-48 win over Johnson C. Smith in the quarterfinal round Thursday afternoon.
In a tightly contested game that saw nine lead changes and six ties, Livingstone has once again raised a few eyebrows after pulling off a dramatic win as the bottom-ranked team in the tournament.
Entering the fourth quarter, the score was an even 38-38. The Blue Bears shot 5 of 11 from the field and held the opposing Eagles to 2-of-11 shooting. They trailed 44-40 with 5:35 left in regulation and clamped down on defense, holding JCSU to one field goal in the final five minutes.
Despite tallying 35 turnovers for the day, Livingstone secured the ball well enough in the critical moments of the contest to mount a late comeback rally. Jamiah Lane chipped in with nine points and 10 rebounds for Livingstone, which is coming off a 49-38 first-round win over No. 5 Fayetteville State, also the defending tournament champs.
Johnson C. Smith’s Shaniya Jones scored a game-high 18 and Ciara Harris added 11 in the loss. The Golden Bulls fall to 15-10 as the Blue Bears improve to 8-19 on the season, and will square off against top-ranked Lincoln in the tournament semifinals on Friday at 2 p.m.
No. 11 Virginia State 50, No. 3 Bowie State 33
Natalia Leaks and Shayla Sweeney notched double-double performances to power the Virginia State women’s basketball team to a 50-33 win over CIAA Tournament host Bowie State on Thursday afternoon.
Leaks recorded 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Sweeney added 11 points and 10 rebounds as the 11th-ranked Trojans knocked off a higher seed for the second time this week. The Bulldogs had an abysmal shooting day, connecting on 9-of-56 shots from the field in the tough loss.
Getting to the free-throw line for 30 attempts also worked largely to VSU’s advantage.
After a slow start, Howard drained two corner 3s to give the Bulldogs an 11-9 lead at the top of the second quarter. Virginia State answered with an eight-point scoring run that was snapped by a baby hook by Talanya Hutton down low.
The Trojans were able to slow Bowie State down offensively and expand their lead throughout the second frame. VSU closed out the half on a 12-2 run to hold a 21-13 lead at the break. Sommer Blakemore had eight points in the first half to pace the Trojans.
VSU also controlled the rebounding duel, 24-15, at intermission and scored the first two buckets to open the third quarter. Shayla Sweeney and Natalia Leaks were pivotal in helping VSU maintain a cozy, double-digit lead. Outside of two deep triples by Drew Calhoun, BSU didn’t generate much offense in third, and was charged with costly offensive fouls.
The Bulldogs found themselves in a 35-23 hole entering the fourth, knowing they had to make something happen to defend their semi-home court and keep their tournament hopes alive. Their struggles from the field continued into the fourth, being held to only one point in the first five minutes.
Meanwhile, the Trojans were in front, 40-24, with 4:56 left and appeared to be in control in the game’s final stretch. BSU’s first field goal of the fourth came on a steal and layin by Anii Harris in the bottom of the fourth, but VSU was ahead 47-28 at the two-minute mark en route to the win over the much higher-ranked Bulldogs.
“It was a tough loss. We didn’t want to end our season this way, but Virginia State came to play and we just had a hard time getting into the flow of the game,” BSU Coach Shadae Swan said after the loss. Guard Robyn Howard led the Bulldogs with 10 points. Bowie’s season concludes at 12-12 overall while VSU improves to 13-16 and will advance to face No. 2 Elizabeth City State on Friday at noon