March 3, 2006
CHARLOTTE, NC - The Johnson C. Smith University Lady Golden Bulls became the first team to punch a ticket to the CIAA Women's Basketball Tournament title game as they defeated the Elizabeth City State University Lady Vikings 75-74 in the first CIAA Tournament semifinal game on Friday afternoon at the Charlotte Bobcats Arena in Charlotte, NC.
First half action saw the lead change hands ten times as both teams would lead, and trail, by as many as six points.
Despite 13 first-half turnovers, the Lady Golden Bulls of Johnson C. Smith, playing in front of a hometown crowd in Charlotte, NC, earned themselves a lead, albeit by the slimmest of margins, as they headed into the locker room at halftime in front of ECSU 40-39.
The final 20 minutes of play continued to be a mirror image of the first half as the two CIAA women's basketball powers traded blows.
Second half action would continue to be tight as the largest lead of the second half would again be only six points, an advantage held by the Lady Vikings.
The enjoyment of a lead would be short-lived for ECSU as J.C. Smith erased the deficit and pulled ahead again, marking the 14th lead change of the contest, setting the stage for a fever-pitched final three minutes of play.
Holding a one point advantage with 36.3 seconds to play in the game, ECSU's Venkia Jones missed a pair of free throws that could have pushed the Lady Viking lead to as many as three points.
Following a defensive rebound, the home town Lady Golden Bulls earned their own trip to the free throw line with an attempt to retake the lead. JCSU's Ashley Chase calmly buried both free throws to give her team a 75-74 lead with under ten seconds to play.
The crowd on hand at Charlotte Bobcats Arena watched as ECSU was unable to get a clean look at the basket in the game's waning moments, and erupted with excitement as the final horn sounded ensuring JCSU's title-game berth.
The win earns the Lady Golden Bulls a berth in the 2006 CIAA Women's Championship game on Saturday evening at 9:00 pm. JCSU will face the winner of the second semifinal game between the Shaw University Lady Bears and North Carolina Central University Lady Eagles.
Leading the Lady Golden Bulls was game MVP Brittany Sumpter who recorded 23 points in the victory. All-CIAA forward Celeste Trahan led four Lady Vikings in double figures with a game-high 24 points in the loss. She added 13 rebounds and four steals in the losing effort as well.