Virginia Union downs Lincoln (PA) to return to CIAA Championship game

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Jolisa Williams contributed to this story

CHARLOTTE, N.C.(March 1, 2019) – For the second consecutive year, the Virginia Union University women’s basketball team will make an appearance in the 2019 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Women’s Basketball Championship after erasing a 15-point deficit in the first half to come away with the 82-75 victory against Lincoln University Friday afternoon in the women’s tournament semifinals.

Virginia Union (26-2) will play the winner of the No. 1 South seed, Fayetteville State and the No. 6 North seed, Elizabeth City State Saturday, Mar. 2 at 1 p.m. at the Spectrum Center.

Shareka McNeill was named the Food Lion’s MVP after turning in a 38-point performance on 12-of-23 shooting from the field and 10-of-11 shots from the charity stripe. Nicole Floyd would chip in 17 points and seven rebounds to round out the double figure scoring for the Lady Panthers who registered 39.1-percent (27-69) in field goals, and 23-of-25 (92-percent) from the free throw line.

As for Lincoln (Pa.), the Lady Lions were paced by Kwanza Murray with 25 points, six rebounds and three assists while Alisia Machado added 12 points, five rebounds and two blocks. Both DeAshia Young and DeeDee Irwin finished with 10 points apiece. Additionally, Young grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds, nine assists and two steals while Irwin accounted for four rebounds and three assists.

The Lady Lions had the momentum early on after taking a 14-2 lead that included back-to-back 3-pointers from Spencer. VUU got just its second basket of the quarter on a tip-in from Jasmine Carter at the 3:04 mark. Despite an 11-6 run from the Lady Panthers in the last three minutes of the frame, LUPA hit a layup at the buzzer to lead 25-13 over Virginia Union after one quarter.

VUU cut the Lady Lions lead to single digits after a 9-4 run in the second quarter but a 3-pointer from Murray put LUPA ahead 32-22 with 5:58 left in the opening half.

The Lady Panthers then roared back from a double figure deficit to tie the game at 36-36 capped off by an old fashion 3-point play from Floyd with 1:29 left. Both teams would go into the locker with the score tied at 38-38 at halftime.
A jumper from Floyd gave VUU a two-point cushion to start the second half but on the ensuing possession, Murray responded with a 3-pointer to provide a one-point edge in favor of LUPA in the first minute of the third quarter. The Lady Panthers then orchestrated a 12-5 run to take a 54-43 lead with 5:38 left before taking a 10-point lead. However, LUPA did not fold as they chopped the double digit lead to five (61-56) heading into the fourth quarter.

Facing a 71-58 deficit with 4:48 remaining in regulation, the Lady Lions clawed its way back into the contest on a 7-2 spurt but the Lady Panthers would not relent on the lead and eventually produced an 11-point lead topped by two free throws from McNeil in the game’s final 22 seconds in route to the victory.

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