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By Lut Williams
Black College Sports Page

CHARLOTTE, NC ­– South Division top-seed Fayetteville State pulled away from a 32-all halftime tie to down Bowie State, the second-seed from the North, 61-53, in Saturday afternoon’s CIAA women’s tournament championship game, the last to be played here at the Spectrum Center as the tournament moves next year to Baltimore.ciaa trn20 logo

The Lady Broncos (21-8), who took the rubber match after the teams split victories in the regular season, were led by Shantel Bennet’s 24 points, 13 she scored in the first half, and 20 from all-CIAA guard and tournament MVP Katisha Hyman. Center Aminata Johnson added 10 points. London Thompson pulled down a game-high 17 rebounds.

It’s the first championship for FSU since 2010 and the first for fourth-year head coach Serena-King Coleman. FSU and Serena-Coleman came in as the South’s top team a year ago but were crushed in the championship game by North top seed Virginia Union, 74-41.

But, after a 15-year run for the tournament in North Carolina’s Queen City, it was Serena-King and the Lady Broncos’ time.

The nip-and-tuck battle saw Hyman score the game’s first eight points and FSU jump up 15-5 before settling for a 21-13 first quarter lead. BSU (24-5) battled back and led 32-30 before Hyman beat the halftime buzzer on a jumper to send the teams into the break tied at 32.

FSU took its first second-half lead, 40-38, on a layup by Bennett with 5:56 to go in the third quarter. It was a lead FSU would not surrender. Bennett also scored the last points of the quarter on a layup after a steal by Hyman with 1:55 to play that gave the Lady Broncos a 47-41 lead entering the final period.

BSU pulled within two, at 49-47 with 5:15 to play on a layup by Chyna Butler but that was as close as it got. FSU scored the next four points on a layup by Hyman and two Bennett free throws. BSU made one final push, getting to within 53-50 on Kyaja Williams’ 3-point play at the 2:31 mark. But FSU scored the next five points, all from the free throw line, as BSU was forced to foul.

Bowie State was led by 14 points from Williams, but she was the only Lady Bulldog to score in double digits. Williams tied Dynaisa Christian for the team high with 13 rebounds, and also had five steals. Christian also scored nine points.

By virtue of its championship, FSU will earn the CIAA’s automatic berth to the NCAA Div. II national championship tournament and will be one of eight teams in the Atlantic Regional. The 64-team championship field will be announced on Sunday, March 8.

Virginia Union (23-4), the top seed from the CIAA’s North Division who lost to BSU in Friday’s semifinals, may also receive a berth. The Lady Panthers were ranked third in the region entering the tournament. Bowie State could also get into the field. BSU was sixth in the region prior to the tournament and defeated VUU after splitting with the Lady Panthers in the regular season.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Katisha Hyman, Fayetteville State

 

ALL TOURNAMENT TEAM
Kyaja Williams, Bowie State
O’Shea Hatley, Winston-Salem State
Natalia Leaks, Virginia State
Nyasia Davis, Elizabeth City State
Katisha Hyman, Fayetteville State
Shameka McNeill, Virginia Union
Brandi Segars, Winston-Salem State
Shankia McCallum, Bowie State
Chantel Williams, Fayetteville State
Talanya Hutton, Bowie State

JOHN B. McCLENDON SPORTSMANSHIP TROPHY

Bowie State

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