Virginia State defense clamps down on Elizabeth City State

From :

Anthony Jeffries contributed to this story

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (February 27th, 2019) – Northern Division champion Virginia State, the No. 1 defensive team in the conference and among the best in the nation, put the clamps on Elizabeth City State to take a 67-54 CIAA men’s basketball quarterfinal matchup at Bojangles’ Coliseum on Wednesday.

The Trojans held the Vikings to 32.8 percent shooting in gaining the double-digit win. The 54 points tied the second-lowest point total this season for the Vikings, who also scored the same amount in a regular-season loss to the Trojans in January.

“Anytime you can hold a team to 54 points, obviously you defended pretty well,” Trojans’ Head Coach Lonnie Blow, Jr. said. “Our defense carried us all night long.”

The win put the Trojans (25-4 overall) in the semifinal round where they face the winner of Thursday’s quarterfinal contest between Livingstone and Bowie State. AspireTV will televise Friday’s semifinal, which starts at 7 p.m.

The Bowie State-Livingstone winner faces a daunting task against the Trojans, nationally ranked in the NABC Coaches Poll (15th) and the D2SIDA (20th) Poll. The Trojans lead the nation in three-point field goal defense and rank 16th nationally in field goal percentage defense.

On Wednesday, the Trojans displayed their defensive prowess against the Vikings, who were coming off a one-point overtime win over Winston-Salem State the night before. The Vikings opened with a five-point first-half lead before the Trojans handcuffed their opponent. An early deficit turned into a six-point lead for the Trojans, who went into the locker room ahead 31-27 at halftime.

The Trojans continued to stifle the Vikings in the second half. The Vikings scored the first bucket of the half to cut their deficit to two but it was all Trojans from that point. A basket by Antwan Miles capped a 29-17 run by the Trojans, who led 60-46 with 4:50 remaining.

The Trojans scored just enough points to keep their distance from the Vikings. Jahmere Howze, the Food Lion MVP, scored 13 points and Cyonte Melvin added 11 points. Miles chipped in 10 points as the Trojans shot 46.9 percent including 54.2 percent in the second half.

Justin Faison scored 10 points for the Vikings, but he was their only double-figure scorer. The Vikings did outrebound the Trojans 17-9 on the offensive glass, but they only converted eight second-chance points.

Melvin scored eight points and Howze added seven points in the first half for Virginia State. The Trojans got support from their bench, led by six points from Antwan Miles, to outscore the Viking reserves 13-6. The Northern Division champs, who shot 40 percent from the floor, also outscored ECSU 7-0 in fast break points in the first half.

Tyjhai Byers kept the Vikings within striking distance with six points and six rebounds. Omar Roberts also scored six points for the Vikings, who shot 33.3 percent from the floor but outrebounded the Trojans 21-15, which led to a 6-5 advantage in second chance points.

The Vikings, seeded fifth in the Northern Division, concluded their season with a 14-16 overall record.

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