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Sunday, June 4, 2023

CIAA Basketball Tournament Day 2 recap: Osborne rallies Virginia Union past WSSU, Elizabeth City to face Lincoln for women’s conference title

Men’s Results

No. 1 Fayetteville State 79, No. 5 Livingstone 68

A fairly balanced offensive night from the Fayetteville State men’s basketball team fueled the Broncos to a comfortable victory over Livingstone in the CIAA Tournament semifinal on Friday.

Guard Cress Worthy put up a game-high 22 points to go with eight rebounds and Koraan Clemonts scored 17 to power the top-ranked Broncos to an 11-point win. Additionally, Darian Dixon netted 16 points and Zion Cousins recorded a double-double of 13 points and 10 boards for FSU (20-8), which connected on more than half of its field goal attempts.

Fayetteville State began the evening trailing 4-0 before answering with a big scoring run before an official timeout. The Broncos added a free throw and a short jumper before Livingstone’s Malik Smith hit a short jumper from the corner to snap the 12-0 run by the Broncos.

FSU used second-chance points and decent outside shooting to put themselves ahead, 22-12, at the eight-minute mark of the first half.

In the next three-and-a-half minutes, Koraan Clemonts, Jalen Seegars and Cress Worthy scored on well-contested shots to push FSU’s lead to 33-14. The Broncos’ guards applied relentless ball pressure that led to LC turnovers that were converted to buckets on the other end. Additionally, Seegars’ effort on the offensive glass was crucial down the stretch.

Darian Dixon’s free throws inflated FSU’s lead to 20 near halftime; at the break, the Broncos led 39-22 behind a combined 21 points from Worthy and Clemonts. Also, FSU’s bench outscored LC’s 8-0.

Fayetteville State continued to keep the Blue Bears at bay throughout the second half thanks to a solid defensive effort, and was paced by Worthy, who went on to win the Food Lion MVP of the Game honors.

Clemonts and LC’s Deshone Hicks traded 3-pointers to bring the score to 62-47 in favor of Fayetteville State with 6:52 left in the game. In the next three-minute span, LC enhanced its defensive aggression with a full-court trap and trimmed their deficit to 68-58. Worthy stopped the bleeding with a field goal just inside the three-minute mark.

The Broncos got a stop on the next possession, grabbed two offensive boards and drew a foul to drain the clock and eventually seal the win, punching their ticket to the CIAA championship game scheduled for Saturday at 4 p.m. to culminate tournament week.

LC (14-9) was led by guard Deshone Hicks with 18 points and four assists while Malik Smith poured in 12 points.

FSU advances to the tournament final, slated for Saturday at 4 p.m. at Royal Farms Arena.

No. 2 Virginia Union  71, No. 3 Winston-Salem State 59

Robert Osborne tied for a game-high 16 points and pulled down 12 crucial rebounds to help Virginia Union to clinch a quality win over defending CIAA champs Winston-Salem State in the tournament semifinal.

The 6-foot-5 junior forward repeated as the Food Lion MVP of the Game. He showed unmatched tenacity to rally his team; of his 12 boards, six of them were offensive. Tyriek Railey also scored 16 for the Panthers (23-6).

Trailing 11-4 about midway through the first half, the Panthers applied a trap defense that sparked a comeback rally in the middle of the first half that somewhat shifted the complexion of the game. A corner 3 by Rasheed Gatling gave VUU a 17-16 lead, completing a 13-6 run.

A steal by Xavier Fennell followed by an authoritative one-handed slam plus the foul put WSSU up, 24-21. Virginia Union’s Robert Osborne was huge on the boards for the Panthers on both ends, which fueled them to a strong finish to close out the first half.

Keleaf Tate threw a perfectly timed lob to Jordan Peebles for a two-handed dunk as the first half buzzer sounded that put VUU in front, 32-24. Tyriek Railey had 10 points in the first half for the Panthers and Cameron Campbell likewise had 10 for the Rams.

Momentum was leaning in the Panthers’ direction at that moment as they were crushing the Rams on the boards, 24-10.

After about four minutes elapsed in the second half, VUU led 43-29, continuing to feed off its defensive pressure and tenacity on the glass. WSSU was able to trim it down to 43-35 at the halfway mark, and Railey pushed Virginia Union’s lead back to 12 after two makes from the charity stripe.

Every time the Rams would make a run, the Panthers responded. VUU’s poise and ability to consistently reverse the ball inside for easy buckets made a considerable difference along the way.

Toward the final stretch, VUU maintained an advantage of eight to 11 points, forcing tough shots by WSSU. With 3:52 to go in the game, the Panthers held a 54-46 lead. Samage Teel knocked down two free throws, then Osborne responded with a three-point play on the other end.

A WSSU turnover and a driving layup by VUU’s Demarius Pitts, increasing the lead to 63-50 as fans began to leave the arena. The Rams (19-7) were led by Javonte Cooke with 15 points and Cameron Campbell with 14 points.

The hard-fought victory puts Virginia Union in the tournament championship showdown against top-ranked Fayetteville State on Saturday at 4 p.m.

Women’s Results

No. 2 Elizabeth City State 57, No. 11 Virginia State 53

In the most suspenseful matchup of Day 4, pivotal free throws in the final two minutes and crucial late-game buckets by Tirenique Broadwater and Sireann Pitts helped Elizabeth City State eke out a 57-53 win to advance past Virginia State in the semifinal round of the CIAA Basketball Tournament on Friday afternoon.

With 2:41 left in the contest the score was an even 50-50, and the Vikings were able to string together enough impactful plays to escape with the win over the 11th-ranked Trojans.

Blango scored 15, Felicia Jackson poured in 14 and Pitts finished with 15 rebounds and five blocks in the victory.

While ECSU committed 21 turnovers to VSU’s nine, the Vikings tallied 13 assists to the Trojans’ six and won the rebounding battle, 40-24. Virginia State played hard-nosed defense, totaling 10 steals as it outscored its opponent, 26-25, in the second half.

VSU shot 75 percent from the charity stripe but was held to 38.5 percent shooting from the field. Valerie Samuel netted 16 points for the Trojans, whose season ends at 13-17 overall with the disheartening loss. Kaaliya Williams contributed with 11 points and six rebounds.

The widest lead of the afternoon was 32-25 for ECSU late in the first half. The Vikings are now 21-6 and will take on No. 1 Lincoln in the CIAA title match on Saturday at 1 p.m.

No. 1 Lincoln 74, No. 12 Livingstone 48

Top-ranked Lincoln broke away early, defeating bottom-ranked Livingstone by 26 in what was the most lopsided affair of Day 4.

Bryanna Brown began attacking the rim early and led the way with 18 points while Kryshell Gordy notched 11 points and 12 rebounds to lift the Lions to a 74-48 tournament semifinal win on Friday. Jade Young also had a double-double performance of 10 points and 10 boards for the Lions.

Lincoln led 36-20 at the half, and it was pretty much smooth sailing from there. Livingstone was able to cut it to within 12 early in the third but the run was short-lived. LU quickly bounced back and led by as much as 29 (61-32) on a triple by Brown with 7:34 left in the game.

LU out-rebounded LC by 14 and forced the Blue Bears to take difficult shot attempts all day. Livingstone 21.6 percent from the field while Lincoln shot better than 40 percent. Lincoln’s fluidity on offense was evidenced by its 17 assists in contrast to Livingstone’s five — also a key deciding factor in the outcome.

Alyssa Boyce had 10 points for the Blue Bears and Daijah Turner registered 11 points and three assists in the season-ending defeat.

Livingstone’s season concludes with an 8-20 overall record while Lincoln improves to 21-7 and is on its way to the conference tournament final against second-ranked Elizabeth City on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Royal Farms Arena.

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