Saturday, February 25, 2017

Johnson C. Smith women beat Virginia State to win first CIAA title since 2009

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina -- Steve Joyner Jr. delivered on his pledge to make J.C. Smith women’s basketball relevant again.

The Golden Bulls, the South Division’s top seed, wore down North No. 3 Virginia State 68-59 for the CIAA title Saturday at Spectrum Center, winning the school’s first championship since 2009 and earning an automatic berth in the Division II national tournament. As has been the case throughout the tournament, J.C. Smith’s (22-7) bench came up big, outscoring Virginia State’s reserves 47-14.

“I think our depth was the difference-maker,” said Joyner, who became the first person to earn a CIAA title as a player and coach and joined his dad Steve Sr. as the first relatives to win league titles as coaches. “I think they got tired in the second half because of the tempo we forced them to play, and that was the deciding factor.”

The best of the reserves was ...


FAMU Walks-Off Again, Winning 6-5 in the 11th over GW


TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- The FAMU Rattlers (4-2) won in walk-off fashion for the second straight day, downing George Washington (2-5) by a score of 6-5 in 11 innings. The Rattlers trailed for the majority of the ball game, but they showed their resiliency once again in the late innings, rallying in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie the game, and walking off with the win in the eleventh.

John Capra led off the final inning with a one out single down the right field line. Brian Davis and Ben Ellzey both walked, loading the bases for freshman pinch-hitter, Eric Blanc Jr., who hit a chopper up the first base line, allowing Capra to beat the throw home and score the game’s winning run, sending the FAMU faithful off in celebration.

Trailing 5-4, FAMU rallied to tie the score and send the game to extra innings in the bottom of the ninth. Reese reached on an error and then Capra singled up the middle. Brian Davis then came through with the game tying RBI on a line drive single to left center field, scoring pinch-runner Malachi Mitchell from second.

John Capra, Ben Ellzey, and Brian Davis led the way at the plate for the Rattlers. Capra recorded four hits for the second time this season and contributed with a run scored and an RBI. Ellzey extended his hitting streak to 27 games, finishing the day 2-for-3 with three walks and his first home run of the season. Davis was 1-for-3 with two RBI, a run scored, and two walks.

Jamie Grant (2-0) picked up his second win of the season, throwing two scoreless innings of relief, allowing only one hit. Thomas Nicoll (3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 K) also pitched well on the afternoon.

The Rattlers jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning courtesy of a two out double off the bat of sophomore Willis McDaniel. Brian Davis walked with one out, and Ben Ellzey singled to right field, placing runners on first and second. McDaniel then drove in the game’s first run on an RBI double, scoring Davis from second.

George Washington answered back in the top of the second inning with a two out double of their own. Matt Cosentino, who reached on a single through the right side, was running on the pitch and scored all the way from first base on a double by Brandon Chapman, tying the game at 1-1.

A pair of free passes came back to bite FAMU starter Ryan Anderson in the top of the third inning as George Washington jumped out to a 4-1 lead. Kashi led off the inning with a walk, and with two outs Mark Osis was hit by a pitch. The next batter for the Colonials, Bobby Campbell, homered to left field, scoring three runs.

Ben Ellzey trimmed the George Washington lead to two, on his homerun to left field in the bottom of the third inning.

Florida A&M battled back to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh inning, forcing the Colonials to make three pitching changes in the inning. Ty Russ got things started, drawing a one out walk. Garrett Wilkinson then singled through the left side, and Kaycee Reese followed with a walk to load the bases for Capra, who smoked a line drive single to left field, scoring the first run of the inning. Brian Davis then tied the game at 4-4 with a sacrifice fly to center field.

The Colonials regained the lead at 5-4 in the top of the eighth thanks to three consecutive two-out singles. With runners on first and second, Robbie Metz delivered a single to right field, scoring Osis from second.

In the end, the Rattlers had too much fight, as they gutted out another win, stealing the second game, and clinching the series from the George Washington Colonials.

Ryan Anderson did not factor into the decision, but finished the day with six innings pitched, allowing six hits and four runs with four strikeouts.

George Washington reliever John Greeley (0-1) suffered the loss giving up one run on one hit and two walks in 1.1 innings pitched.

Florida A&M and George Washington will play the final game of the three-game series tomorrow at 11:00 AM at Moore-Kittles Field.

As always, fans can follow Rattler Baseball on Twitter @BaseballFAMU and on Facebook. Live Stats are also available on the baseball schedule page of



Stewart joins XU sports medicine staff

NEW ORLEANS — Nia Stewart has joined the Xavier University of Louisiana sports medicine staff as an athletic trainer. She will work primarily with XULA teams in volleyball, women's basketball and men's and women's tennis, plus the spirit groups.

The XULA trainer positions are part of the partnership between XULA Athletics and Ochsner Health System's sports medicine division. XULA's other athletic trainer is Mark Armour, a member of the staff since July 2015.

Stewart has been an Ochsner athletic trainer since August 2015. Before that she served two seasons as an intern athletic trainer with the New Orleans VooDoo of the Arena Football League.

Stewart's certifications are NASE Level II Certified Speed Specialist, Louisiana Licensed Athletic Trainer, NATABOC Certified Athletic Trainer and American Heart Association BLS for Healthcare Providers.

"Nia will be a great addition to our sports medicine team. The management team at the Ochsner Sports Medicine Institute is the 'best of the best' and has provided us with several very qualified candidates," said XULA Director of Athletics & Recreation Jason Horn. "Athletic trainers are a vital part of our operation, and Nia has great experience plus she has the insight of being a former student-athlete. We look forward to her working with several of our teams and spirit groups."

Stewart received her bachelor's degree from Southeastern Louisiana University, where she was a four-year letterwinner in women's track and field, set school records indoors in the 55- and 60-meter dashes and was a Southland Conference runner-up in the long jump. Stewart received her master's degree in exercise science and health promotion from California University of Pennsylvania.

Stewart replaces Allison Wood, who departed XULA in January to become head athletic trainer of the Los Angeles Dodgers' two teams in the Dominican Summer League.

XULA teams compete in the NAIA as a member of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference.

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

Pat Kendrick named Xavier head volleyball coach

NEW ORLEANS — Pat Kendrick, a successful NCAA Division I head coach with nearly 500 career victories, is the new head coach of women's volleyball at Xavier University of Louisiana, effective March 1.

XULA Director of Athletics & Recreation Jason Horn announced the hiring of Kendrick Thursday. Kendrick — who won 467 matches in 30 seasons (1985-2014) at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. — replaces Hannah Lawing, who resigned in December after four seasons.

"Xavier University has a great academic reputation, and the volleyball teams have been quite successful in conference," Kendrick said. "I want to bring Xavier to the point where it's a nationally recognized volleyball program to go with its nationally recognized academic programs.

"Through my experiences with George Mason and USA Volleyball programs, I know the game and training players, match strategy and recruiting. I know how to get players to work hard and find success on and off the court."

Kendrick was Virginia Tech's director of volleyball operations the past two seasons.

Kendrick's George Mason teams won eight Colonial Athletic Association championships and qualified seven times for the NCAA Tournament. Eight of her teams reached 20 victories, and two of those eight reached 30.

Kendrick is an eight-time CAA Coach of the Year. She was named state coach of the year by the Virginia Sports Information Directors six times. Her career record at Mason was 467-439.

"Our coaching opportunity had many great candidates from across the country show interest. We are extremely thrilled to gain a coach with the experience of Coach Kendrick," Horn said. "We were seeking someone who understands the mission of Xavier University and the potential we have with our program to build a national contender here in New Orleans.

"The search committee was very impressed with the preparation, planning and presentation of Coach Kendrick during the interview process. She is a proven winner, she looks forward to being a part of the development of and graduating our student-athletes, and many of her values and philosophies for the game mirror the Xavier mission."

Opponents from current P5 conferences that George Mason defeated during Kendrick's tenure included Arkansas, Baylor, Boston College, Florida State, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, NC State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Washington and West Virginia.

Kendrick coached six student-athletes to a total of 10 CAA Player of the Year awards, including three-time winner Aline Pereira. Kendrick has coached six CAA Rookie of the Year honorees and two CAA Setters of the Year. Five times under Kendrick, student-athletes were named CoSIDA Academic All-America.

Kendrick has served since 1994 as a USA Volleyball Cadre (instructor) for the coaches accreditation program. She coached numerous USA Volleyball High Performance, Olympic Festival and Junior National teams. She coached the East to a silver medal at the 1993 U.S. Olympic Festival in San Antonio. Kendrick served four years on the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Rules Committee, and she was a voter on the American Volleyball Coaches Association's top 25 poll.

Kendrick is a George Mason graduate, was a standout hurdler on the track team and was inducted to the school's hall of fame for that sport in 1991. Kendrick was an volleyball assistant coach at Mason for two seasons with the women and one season with the men before ascending to the top women's position.

XULA enters 2017 as a six-time defending regular-season and tournament champion in the NAIA's Gulf Coast Athletic Conference. The Gold Nuggets were eliminated in the NAIA National Championship opening round each of the past six seasons. XULA was 16-17 overall, 11-1 in the GCAC in 2016.

What They're Saying About Pat Kendrick

Russ Rose, Penn State Women's Head Coach
"Pat Kendrick will be a great addition to Xavier and the NAIA. She will bring great energy and experience to the position. She is a terrific recruiter, and she has a positive outlook. I expect great things from her."

Fred Chao, Former George Mason Men's Head Coach and Virginia Tech Women's Assistant Coach

"Pat has a lot of experience that covers all levels of volleyball. Not just the women's game, but also the men's. Her content knowledge is good. She really cares about her players, which is what sets her apart from others. These days the nurturing part is sometimes lacking in sport. Pat can nurture while also maintaining leadership. She is like family to me."

Doug Beal, Retired CEO of USA Volleyball

"I congratulate Xavier for hiring Pat. She has terrific experiences at college, but also with USA Volleyball in the High Performance Program over many years, working and nurturing some of the top talent in our country. Pat is a player's coach and cares deeply about each student-athlete. She knows the game at a high level, can communicate that knowledge and I'm sure she will help Xavier reach new levels of success with the program. Congrats on getting a great coach and a great person."

Dottie Hampton, South Carolina Assistant Coach

"I am so excited for PK and this new opportunity. She has been such a great teacher and mentor to me over the years. I know she will do great things at Xavier. Her knowledge of the game is so great. Xavier is so lucky to have a head coach like Pat Kendrick. I think she will be awesome at Xavier."

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

Friday, February 24, 2017

Former Southern star Lenard Tillery humbled by nomination for inaugural Black College Football Player of the Year award

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana -- Former Southern running back Lenard Tillery, the Southwestern Conference all-time leading rusher and Southern single-season rushing king, has one more shot at history.

Tillery is one of four players up for the inaugural Black College Football Player of the Year award. The winner will be announced in Atlanta at Saturday’s Black College Football Hall of Fame ceremony.

He said just being there in the presence of some all-time HBCU greats, like former Southern star Aeneas Williams, is humbling.

If he were to beat out Grambling quarterback DeVante Kincade, North Carolina Central quarterback Malcolm Bell and North Carolina A&T running back Tarik Cohen to win the award itself?

Well, Tillery sounds like he already has the humility part down.

“To win the award would be great, just to show the season we had as a team and the job the offensive line did this year,” Tillery said. “It would be big for me, it would be big for Southern and it would be big for a lot of my teammates."


Former UVa coach London has next challenge at MEAC member Howard

ROANOKE, Virginia -- Involved with Maryland’s football preparations this past year, associate head coach Mike London wasn’t paying close tabs to developments at Howard University, a nearby FCS program.

At the time that Howard was parting company with six-year head coach Gary Harrell, the Maryland staff was preparing for its final regular-season game against Rutgers with a bowl bid on the line.

The Terrapins beat Rutgers and got an invitation to play Boston College in the Quick Lane Bowl on Dec. 26. Then, after a short break, London and the other coaches hit the road to recruit.

“I was in Detroit somewhere,” said London, who was the head coach at Virginia from 2010-15. “I got a phone call from the [Howard] athletic director, Kery Davis. He had just finished his first year here.”

London learned after the fact that Davis was a former executive at HBO, where he had put together boxing deals and other showbiz extravaganzas.

“He called and said, ‘Hey, listen, we’re going to be looking for a coach to take our program to another level,’ ” London, 56, said. “He said, ‘It’s a school that’s got a gCeat academic reputation and we’re for guys who’ve had success at those places.’ ”


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Gold Rush defeat No. 22 Talladega in double overtime

NEW ORLEANS — Leland Alexander's free throw with 3.9 seconds remaining in the second overtime Monday lifted Xavier University of Louisiana to a 77-76 Gulf Coast Athletic Conference men's basketball victory against NAIA No. 22 Talladega.

Alexander was fouled as he attempted to catch an alley-oop pass from Donovan Armstrong at the rim. Alexander made the first free throw, but a lane violation voided his second attempt. Marcus Brown missed a 30-footer for the Tornadoes as time expired.

Armstrong, a freshman point guard, scored a career-high 24 points and made 13-of-18 free throws. Innocent Kukulu scored 14 points for XULA (10-18. 6-5), and Seth Jackson and Jalen David had 10 apiece.

Jordan Washington, No. 2 in NAIA Division I scoring average, had 26 points for the Tornadoes (20-9, 6-5). Brown scored 14.

Talladega scored the first 14 points — the Gold Rush did not score until the sixth minute — and led XULA 33-25 at halftime. The Gold Rush trailed until taking a 62-61 lead with 11 seconds remaining on Armstrong's basket after rebounding his missed free throw. Brown forced overtime by making 1-of-2 free throws with two seconds remaining.

Armstrong's two free throws with 27 seconds remaining in the first overtime tied the score at 70, then the Gold Rush extended the game when Elex Carter blocked a Keynan Gardner-Willis shot on the final possession of that period.

Some statistics were identical. Both teams were 25-of-57 from the floor (43.9 percent), both made 22 free throws, and both had 15 assists. Talladega was plus-5 in turnovers, and the Gold Rush outrebounded the Tornadoes 42-30.

XULA defeated Talladega for the second time in their last nine meetings. The Gold Rush avenged a 90-76 road loss to the Tornadoes from three weeks earlier. It was the first Gold Rush this victory in 12 attempts this season against ranked opponents.

"We've been putting in the time. The time and the effort to get better every day," XULA coach Alfred Williams said. "That game was just a testament to us believing in the process and continuing to work through our situation. Guys stepped up in a big way. We need guys to step up and produce like they're capable of doing."

Kukulu made four 3-pointers, all after halftime, to set a XULA freshman season record with 49 made treys. Percy Bland (1988-89) held the previous mark of 48.

XULA is 3-0 in overtime this season, all in conference games. It was XULA's first multiple-overtime game since March 8, 2014, and its first victory in a multiple-overtime game since Jan. 29, 2004.

XULA seniors Jackson and Wesley Pluviose-Philip were honored in a pregame ceremony.

XULA will close its regular season in a GCAC game at 5 p.m. Saturday at Tougaloo. The GCAC Tournament will begin March 3 in New Orleans, with XULA playing host to the semifinals March 4 and the finals March 5.


Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director