Saturday, February 27, 2016

Virginia State Edges Out Bowie State, Trojans Advance to CIAA Championship Game

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – Virginia State built a big lead with its suffocating defense, then held off a late Bowie State rally to win 81-70 in the CIAA Tournament men's semifinals at Time Warner Cable Arena on Friday, Feb. 26, 2016. With the victory, the Trojans advance to the finals for the first time since 1991.

The Trojans, who are the Northern Division champions, will aim for their first conference title since 1988 when they face either Virginia Union or Livingstone in Saturday's championship game, which will be held Saturday, Feb. 27, at 7:00 p.m. The contest will be televised live on ESPN3 and shown on tape delay at 10 p.m. on ESPNU.


"It is exciting about where our program is right now," said Trojans' Head Coach Lonnie Blow, Jr., who is leading his second team to the CIAA finals after guiding Saint Augustine's to the 2010 title.
Forward Elijah Moore scored 18 points and guard Kevin Williams, the Food Lion MVP, added 17 points for the Trojans (22-5 overall), who held the Bulldogs to 36.1 percent shooting. The Trojans entered the contest ranked ninth nationally in Division II in field-goal percentage defense.

The Trojans relied on its defense to take a commanding lead. A 19-8 run erased a one-point deficit and put the Trojans ahead 34-24 at halftime. They extended the score to 49-33 in the second half when guard-forward Cyonte Melvin canned a three-pointer.

"We did a really nice job of getting off to a good start both halves, especially on the defensive end of the floor," Blow said. "We contained them early and got ourselves a little working margin. We were able to be consistent enough to maintain the lead throughout the game. I am proud of my guys."

The Bulldogs, the No. 3 Northern Division seed, threatened late in the contest. Down 72-56 with 2:48 remaining, they outscored the Trojans 12-4 to close within 74-66 on forward Andre Jackson's three-pointer with 1:31 remaining.

"We were able to pressure them and started driving the ball," Bulldogs' Head Coach Darrell Brooks said. "We really wanted to drive the basketball most of the game. We felt if we could attack them, we could have some success offensively. Unfortunately, we didn't do that for 40 minutes."

The Trojans fended off the Bulldogs with key stops and timely free throw shooting. Moore and guard Tyler Peterson, who finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds, both made 3 of 4 free throw attempts down the stretch to preserve the win.

Guard Ahmaad Wilson scored 17 points for the Bulldogs, who had four players score in double figures. Forward Enuoma Ebinum added 14 points, guard Justin Beck chipped in 13 points and Jackson had 12 points for the Bulldogs, who ended their season at 17-13 overall.



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