VIRGINIA STATE AVENGES LAST SEASON’S SEMIFINAL LOSS BY OUSTING DEFENDING CHAMP FAYETTEVILLE STATE
Lady Trojans, led by Rhon’Neisha Taylor, pick up 65-44 victory in CIAA Tournament’s opening round
February 28, 2011
CHARLOTTE, NC – There will be a new CIAA Women’s champion.
Fayetteville State, the defending CIAA Tournament champion, was defeated 65-44 by Virginia State in the opening round of the 2011 CIAA Tournament on Monday.
The Lady Trojans (18-8), led by All-CIAA selection Rhon’Neshia Taylor’s 20 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, got a measure of redemption by knocking off the Lady Broncos, who had beaten the Lady Trojans in the semifinals of the tournament a year ago.
And this one wasn’t close.
“We thought that last year was our year, and knowing we had to play Fayetteville State gave us fuel to our fire to bat them,” said Morgan McGill, who added 12 points and five rebounds.
Virginia State won convincingly, scoring 27 out of the game’s 32 points in one stretch to build a 41-15 lead with 14:05 still remaining in the game. The Lady Trojans did not allow Fayetteville State (6-21) to break the 20-point barrier until LaQuasha Jordan hit a 3-pointer with 12:10 remaining in the game to make it 46-21. Virginia State eventually led by as many as 31 points.
“It was typical Lady Broncos’ Basketball for the 2010-11 season,” said Fayetteville State head coach Eva Patterson-Heath. “We dug ourselves a hole and had to try to find a way to score. And we were never able to dig ourselves out of that hole.”
While the first half was sloppy – the teams combined for a total of 32 turnovers – Virginia State was comfortably in control after using a 12-0 run over 4:09 to build a 26-10 lead with 3:13 remaining in the first half.
Taylor was the beneficiary of the Lady Trojans’ efficient halfcourt offense, scoring 11 points in the first half, with seven of them coming in the key first-half run.
Fayetteville State had worked itself back into the game before the spurt, scoring five straight points while holding Virginia State scoreless for more than 4 minutes to get within four points, 14-10, with 6:45 to go in the half.
But Taylor and Co. responded and led the Lady Trojans into the break with a comfortable 28-14 lead while holding the Lady Broncos to just 23 percent shooting from the field in the opening period. Virginia State held a 29-15 edge in rebounding at the half, with Quiana Kizer pulling down 11 boards in the first half.
And then in the second half, the Lady Trojans really took off.
“At the half, Coach (James) Hill was a little upset because of the way we played in the first half,” said Janelle McDowell. “So the speech given to us was motivation for us to go out and play.”
Whatever Hill said, it worked. But the 16:48 mark, Virginia State led 34-14 and did not allow the Lady Broncos a field goal until Amanda Sinclair scored with 14:40 remaining in the game. By then, the Lady Trojans were up 38-15, only to stretch the lead further.
It was a rocky end to a season in which the Lady Broncos entered as the CIAA Tournament’s defending champions. Fayetteville State lost its last eight games.
“From winning last year to losing in the first round this year, it just hurts really bad,” said Jordan, who led the Lady Broncos with 11 points. “I didn’t expect this season to be the way it was.”
Tiffany Haywood, in her final game with the Lady Broncos, finished with seven points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Haywood, who was the CIAA Tournament MVP a year ago, finishes her career at Fayetteville State with 858 total points and 714 rebounds in 101 games.
“I really felt good about coming into the tournament, but you never know who is going to win,” Haywood said. “It was tough, but everything happens for a reason.”
Nia Thompson added 12 points for the Lady Trojans, who held a 51-31 edge on the boards.
Virginia State will play the winner of Monday night’s game between Shaw and Lincoln at 3 p.m. Tuesday.