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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

CIAA Basketball Tournament Finals: Lincoln women’s team, Fayetteville State men crowned conference titlists to wrap up tournament week

Women’s Result

No. 1 Lincoln 67, No. 2 Elizabeth City State 52

Bryanna Brown recorded a game-high 28 points and six rebounds to lift the top-ranked Lincoln women’s basketball team to a CIAA Basketball Tournament championship victory on Saturday afternoon at Royal Farms Arena.

The Lions exhibited determination and will to pull off the smooth win in front of a few thousand exuberant fans, many of whom were Lincoln alumni, students and supporters.

Brown went off for 14 first-half points and Joy Morton had eight as the Lions led 34-24 at intermission. Statistically, both teams were about even but Lincoln made four 3s to give themselves a decent-sized cushion.

A jumper by Naomi Lockamy and a jump hook by Tirenique Broadwater cut ECSU’s deficit to 44-40 to end the third. Brown began the fourth with a three-point play to halt the Vikings’ momentum.

Two quick buckets by Young pushed LU’s lead to 53-44 as the end of the game approached. From there, things only got better for Lincoln and worse for Elizabeth City State.

Brown completed another tough three-point play, Morton put in a bank shot floater, then Brown drained a 3-pointer from the left wing to create a 65-48 lead for Lincoln with 1:30 remaining in the contest en route to sealing the decisive championship victory for the Lions.

“The feeling and the idea I basically had in the second half was to finish what we started as a group,” said Brown, a New York City native.

“I knew I had to kind of play off my team but also put them on my back and do what I do best, which is getting to that free-throw line, finishing at the basket or even shooting the 3.”

Also the CIAA Player of the Year winner, Brown was the clear-cut Food Lion MVP of the Game and was named the MVP of the tournament. From the jump, it was clear that the 5-foot-9 senior standout would have a dominant game. Her confidence and aggression carried the Lions throughout the tournament and will be crucial come national tournament time.

Jade Young made a number of crucial late-game plays, finishing the afternoon with 11 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

Lincoln (22-7) hopes to continue its postseason run into the NCAA Division II tournament.

Sireann Pitts was big for ECSU, totaling 15 points and 14 rebounds. Felicia Jackson registered 10 points and five assists. The Vikings sit at 21-7 overall as they look to bounce back from the loss in preparation for the national tournament.

Men’s Result

No. 1 Fayetteville State 65, No. 2 Virginia Union 62

Cress Worthy tallied 13 points and six assists and garnered Food Lion Player of the Game honors, while Darian Dixon finished with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting and Jalen Seegars scored a team-high 15 and secured five rebounds to lead Fayetteville State to a narrow 65-62 win over Virginia Union in the CIAA men’s basketball tournament final on Saturday afternoon.

Kaleaf Tate started the day off with a midrange jumper before FSU’s Jalen Seegars came back with a finger roll layup.

As expected, it was a back-and-forth match early on. There were only three misses in the first five minutes of action as FSU and VUU went bucket-for-bucket in what appeared to be the most exciting matchup of tournament week.

FSU put together enough stops and converted on the offensive end when it counted the most to secure the victory. The Broncos last won a CIAA Basketball Tournament in 1973.

Koraan Clemonts had two 3s from the top of the key by the 11-minute mark of the first half, giving the Broncos a 20-16 lead. On the other end, Tyriek Railey made two trey balls over the outstretched hands of FSU defenders, continuing the early-game back-and-forth exchange.

Robert Osborne had a tip-in for his ninth point as time expired to tie the game, 33-33, at halftime. Osborne, winner of the Food Lion MVP of the Game award in his team’s quarterfinal and semifinal wins, also had seven rebounds at the break. Darian Dixon was a staple for the Broncos’ offense with 10 first-half points.

Darius Hines scooped up a rebound and lobbed a pass to Jordan Peebles, who dropped the ball in the hoop to begin the second half of action for the Panthers. Osborne then put down an alley-oop left-handed dunk, then Jalen Seegars scored a layin – indicating how tightly contested the second half would be.

Forward Darryl Myers scored a basket from close range and Zion Cousins swished a long two-pointer near the top of the key, followed by two free throws by Seegars that put the Broncos in front, 51-45, completing an 11-0 run with 7:36 remaining. FSU’s lead ballooned to 56-48 after Cousins putback at 2:47.

As the afternoon drew to a close, the Broncos found ways to slow Osborne down in the paint. He was still the game’s top performer with game highs of 25 points and 16 rebounds.

The lefty did however net two free throws to make it a one-possession just inside of two minutes on the game clock, then FSU mishandled a pass to give the ball back to Virginia Union. Osborne got fouled underneath, then laced a free throw and missed one, bringing the score to 56-54 with 1:29 left.

The sequence that followed clinched the win for the Broncos: Clemonts made two throws, FSU got a stop, Cousins added two more free throws, then VUU was charged with an offensive foul trailing by two possessions.

From there the Panthers had to foul and FSU capitalized at the charity stripe to capture its first conference tournament title in nearly 50 years. Both teams now await seeding for the opening round of the Division II national tournament.

The FSU win was redemption for the 2020 tournament championship loss to Winston-Salem State.

“It’s great for the players, it’s great for the school. They deserve it. It’s been too long,” said FSU Coach Luke D’Alessio, who also led Bowie State to a conference title in 2003 when he was head of the program.

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