By Demetrius Dillard
No. Shaw 54, No. 3 Winston-Salem State 48
To open Day 3 of conference tournament action, the Bears stormed back from an early 12-point deficit to outlast WSSU and advance to the semifinal round.
Brittiney Seymour was the standout performer, tallying game highs of 24 points and 11 rebounds to lead Shaw to the close-six-point win over Winston-Salem State in the quarterfinal match on Thursday afternoon. Tanayja London contributed with 13 points and six boards for the Bears.
After trailing 32-23 at the half, Shaw outscored the Rams 16-4 in the third quarter and held on to its lead in the fourth to emerge victorious in a contest that saw five ties and eight lead changes.
Though WSSU won the rebounding battle, Shaw connected on more of its shots from the field and the free throw line. WSSU shot 29.8 percent from the field while Shaw shot 38.5 percent.
The Rams’ 20 turnovers also proved to be costly. MaKenzie Pollard, a Baltimore native who attended Western High School, recorded four points and three assists for the Bears. For the Rams, Valencia Carroll came off the bench and led the way with 16 points.
Shaw will take on second-ranked Lincoln in the semifinal round on Friday night at 8 p.m.
No. 5 Elizabeth City State 76, No. 4 Bowie State 54
NyAsia Blango’s brilliant scoring performance was the story of the day.
The 5-foot-7 junior guard scored 30 points to carry the Vikings to an easy win over the host team in Bowie State on Thursday afternoon. Blango was her team’s only double-digit scorer.
BSU led briefly at the start of the contest, but once ECSU gained control it held on to the lead for the remainder of the afternoon. The Vikings, who outrebounded the Bulldogs 39-25, led by as much as 24 entering the fourth.
Dy’Jhanik Armfield recorded five assists to help ECSU to the win.
Seanie Lyons led Bowie with 17 points and fellow guard Anii Harris recorded 12 points and five rebounds in the losing effort. The Bulldogs’ 2022-23 campaign comes to a disheartening end with the loss. BSU finishes its season 13-12 overall.
With the win, ECSU advances to the tournament semifinals where it will face No. 8 Johnson C. Smith on Friday at noon.
No. 6 Lincoln 76, No. 3 Virginia State 67
Bakir Cleveland netted a game-high 24 points and Korey Williams had 21 points and four rebounds to lift Lincoln to a 76-67 tournament quarterfinal win over third-ranked VSU on Thursday evening.
Lincoln was in control early and on fire from deep to take an 18-10 lead eight minutes into the game.
VSU’s BJ Fitzgerald and Zach Newkirk answered by leading a first-half surge that saw a 15-point turnaround. The Lions then responded to the Trojans’ 19-4 run by going on a 9-0 run that was capped off by a running floater by Freddie Young Jr.
Terrence Hunter-Whitfield put in a nine-foot floater to give VSU a narrow 36-33 lead at intermission. By that point, Williams netted 13 points for Lincoln while Hunter-Whitfield tallied 10 points to lead VSU offensively.
Both teams exchanged buckets to begin the second frame as the score was tied, 48-48, with 12:00 remaining in the game.
Fitzgerald, one of VSU’s key pieces, charged with his fourth foul just before the halfway mark of the second half. The guard finished with 12 points and six rebounds in 30 minutes on the floor.
Cleveland was pivotal down the stretch, especially during the Lions’ 12-1 run that gave them their first double-digit lead of the night. Free throw shooting enabled the Lions to sustain a three-possession lead as the game wore on. LU led 67-61 with four minutes left in the game.
Two minutes later, a left-handed layup by Williams off a pass from Cleveland gave the Lions an eight-point edge, which was soon followed by a corner triple from Cleveland that was crucial, giving the Lions a 74-65 lead with a minute remaining in action.
The Trojans had three more chances to close the gap, but failed to do so and had to foul Lincoln en route to the quarterfinal win for the Lions. Cleveland, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, was named the game MVP.
LU shot far more efficiently than its opponent, connecting on 51.2 percent of its attempted field goals. Lincoln guard Reggie Hudson buried 11 of 14 free throws on his way to an 18-point night.
Hunter-Whitfield recorded a team-high 21 points to go with six rebounds and Newkirk registered 13 points, four boards, and four assists for the Trojans, who fall to 17-11 with the loss.
Lincoln will play against No. 2 Fayetteville State tonight at 6 p.m.
No. 5 WSSU 60, No. 4 Claflin 52
Winston-Salem State’s resilience on the offensive glass seemed to be the difference-maker in the quarterfinal matchup against higher-ranked Claflin to conclude Day 3 of the tournament.
As a team, the Rams grabbed 16 offensive boards and outrebounded Claflin 39-27, creating numerous second-chance scoring opportunities that obviously worked to WSSU’s advantage, especially late in the game.
“The determination and resilience were very good by the whole team,” said Jaylen Alston, who led WSSU with 16 points and 11 rebounds. “I feel like me, being a leader on this team, I like to show by example.”
WSSU’s Samage Teel and Isaac Parson attacked the rim early, which was effective. Yet and still, the Panthers put up a relentless fight.
Claflin took its first lead of the evening, 15-13, in the middle of the first half off a jumper by DaiJohn Stewart who led the Panthers’ offense.
WSSU headed into the locker rooms commanding a slim 25-23 halftime lead.
All evening, Alston seemed to be in the right place at the right time with several critical put-back layins down the stretch for WSSU.
The Rams’ offensive rebounding effort enabled them to keep the slight edge throughout much of the second half. At the five-minute mark, the Rams led 47-41.
With 30 seconds remaining, WSSU stretched its lead to 60-52, virtually putting the game out of reach. Parson and 6-foot-10 Jaylon Gibson – also pivotal on the glass and defensive end – scored 12 apiece while Teel poured in 11 points for the Rams.
Stewart, Claflin’s biggest offensive threat, scored 17 with four rebounds and three steals. Shyim Cunningham was the Panthers’ other double-digit performer. The 6-foot-5 guard produced 14 points in about 15 minutes off the bench.
Winston advances to play in a semifinal matchup against Virginia Union — a rematch of last year’s semifinal where the Panthers prevailed. Tipoff is slated for Friday at 2 p.m.