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Elizabeth City State captures first CIAA Men's Championship in 26 years

March 3, 2007

Cinderella wore blue and white sneakers Saturday night as seventh-seeded Elizabeth City State knocked off top-seeded Virginia Union, 63-60, to win the 2007 CIAA Men’s Basketball Championship.

The Vikings won their fourth game in as many days to capture their first conference title since 1981 thanks to stellar performances by C.J. Pigford and Anthony Hilliard.

Pigford finished the contest with 23 points and 14 rebounds while Hilliard, tabbed Tournament MVP, dropped in 21 points and grabbed 14 rebounds of his own.

“It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you have good players,” said Viking head coach Shawn Walker. 

The ECSU alum and former all-conference selectee had never tasted victory over the Panthers as a player and a coach including a heart breaking, double-overtime, 95-94, loss to VUU a week ago in Elizabeth City.

The third meeting this season proved to be the charm for the Vikings.

Pigford and Hilliard were able to counter VUU’s Chris Green (19 pts) and Brad Byerson (15 pts, 12 rebs).

ECSU controlled the boards outrebounding VUU, 53-33 turning a three point halftime deficit into a three point championship victory.

They entered the tournament with a 12-15 record.  Ten of those losses were by seven points or less.

The Vikings leave Charlotte on a four game winning streak where three of those wins were by five points or less.

Their CIAA Championship earns them an automatic bid into the NCAA Division II playoffs. 

Virginia Union, who entered the tournament ranked #2 in the region will await an at-large bid.

Pairings will be announced Sunday night.