Virginia State returns to CIAA Championship game

From :

Bob Heller contributed to this story

Charlotte, NC (March 1, 2019) – Virginia State University pulled away in the second half to earn their second consecutive trip to the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Men’s Basketball Tournament Championship game with a 75-65 win over Livingstone College Friday night at the Spectrum Center.

The Trojans (26-4), the top seed in the North Division will advance and play the winner of the Shaw University (#1 South) and Virginia Union University (#2 North) that will tipoff at 9:30 p.m. on Friday. Livingstone, (#2 South) finishes their season with a 17-12 record.

Virginia State used a balanced scoring attack, placing four players in double figures led by Jalen Jackson and Jahmere Howze (14 points apiece.).  Cyonte Melvin added 13 points while Cedric Wiggins chipped in 11 points and five assists..  Armond Greibe came off the bench to contribute eight points and eight rebounds.

Livingstone’s Roger Ray led all scorers with 25 points on 7-13 shooting from the field and 9-10 from the free throw line.  Malik Smith came off the bench to score 14 points and had a team high seven rebounds.

The Trojans jumped out to a 10-2 lead with four different players scoring.  The Blue Bears countered with a 16-8 rally that was started and finished by roger Ray, tying the score at 18-18.  Three possessions later, the Blue Bears took their first lead of the game 24-23 on a free throw from Kenny Grant.   Livingstone still led 26-25 when the Trojans used a 9-3 spurt to reclaim the lead and go back up by six 34-28 with 1:58 left in the half.  Two free throws from Ray with 37 seconds left in the half, rounded out the scoring as the Trojans took a 36-32 lead into the locker room at the break.
The Blue Bears scored the first basket of the second half to pull within two points.  The Trojans came right back with a 14-2 uprising to take a 50-36 lead with Melvin (6 points) and Jackson (5 points) contributing 11 of the 14 points.

VSU’s lead oscillated between 10 and 14 points over the next six minutes until Andrew Corum’s tip-in gave the Trojans their biggest lead of the game at 59-43. 

There was one more run left in the Blue Bear squad, outscoring the Trojans 15-5 over the next 4:50 to make the contest a two-possession game, 64-58 with 1:56 left.   Layups from Howze and Corum took some of the wind out of the Blue Bears as the Trojans went back up by ten 68-58.  VSU closed out the game with seven free throws to finish with the ten point win.

The Trojans shot 42.4% (25-59) from the field and 31.6% (6-19) from three point range.  VSU also converted 19 of 29 free throws on the night (65.5%).  The Blue Bears shot 39% (23-59) from the field; 21.14% (3-14) from three point range; and converted 16 of 25 free throws (64%).

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