Virginia Union ends Johnson C. Smith’s run in the CIAA Tournament


Bob Heller contributed to this story

Charlotte, NC (February 28, 2019) – The Johnson C. Smith men’s basketball team’s dream run at the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Basketball Tournament has come to an end as the Virginia Union Panthers held off two second half rallies by the Golden Bulls to earn a 78-71 victory.

The Panthers (19-10), the #2 seed from the North Division, will advance to the CIAA Tournament semi-finals on Friday, March 1, 2019 where they will play the top seed from the South Division Shaw University.  The game will tip off at 9:00 p.m. and will be broadcast on the Aspire TV Network.

Johnson C. Smith concludes their season with a 10-18 record.

JCSU’s Roddric Ross put the team on his shoulders to buoy the Golden Bulls comeback, scoring 26 of his season-high 39 points in the second half.  Cayse Minor contributed 14 points.

The Panthers placed four players in double figures led by Will Jenkins’ 23 points.  Terrell Leach added 20 points.  Jordan Peebles added 14 points while Demarius Pitts finished the game with 12 points.

Trailing by 14 as the second half began, the Golden Bulls opened the period with a 13-2 spurt, cutting the lead to three 41-38.  Ross knocked down the first four points with Minor and Ervin Bennett adding three-point field goals to highlight the run.  The Panthers pushed the lead back up to double figures with a 13-5 uprising with a balanced attack that saw five VUU players score and the Panthers take a 57-46 lead with 9:15 remaining.

Ross answered with back-to-back three-balls and Minor added a layup to bring the Union lead back down to three at 57-54.  Pitts’ jumper pushed the Panther lead to five before the Golden Bulls made one more run, a 12-7 effort to tie the game at 66-66 with 3:57 left on the clock.  Jenkins broke the tie with a slam dunk and the Panthers began to pull away, finishing the game with an 11-5 run to earn the eight-point win and make their way into the semi-finals 
Leech and Jordan Peebles carried much of the Panther offense in the second half, scoring 11 and ten points respectively in the period and taking over for Jenkins who had 16 of his 23 points in the opening half.

The Panthers jumped out to an early 9-2 lead with William Jenkins producing six of the nine points.  The Golden Bulls followed with a 6-2 run to close the gap to three, 11-8 before the Panthers began to pull away, pushing the lead to eight at 22-14 and then using an 11-2 uprising to take their biggest lead of the half at 15 points, 33-18.  JCSU shaved one point off the lead by the end of the period as the Panthers entered the locker room up 39-25.

The Panthers shot 47.6% (30-63) from the field, and 64% from the free throw line (16-25).  Johnson C,. Smith connected on 43.9% (25-57) of their shots from the field, including an 8-25 effort from beyond the arc (32%).  The Golden Bulls also shot 61.9% (13-21) from the free throw line.

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