02/24/04 — CIAA Tournament roundup

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CIAA Tournament roundup

By News-Argus Staff
Published in Sports on February 24, 2004 1:55 PM

RALEIGH -- The opening day of the 2004 CIAA Tournament at the RBC Center in Raleigh got off to rousing start Monday with some great women's team and individual performances.

In the opening game, Livingstone edged Virginia State 43-41 in a thrilling first-round contest that started slowly but picked up momentum down the stretch. With the score tied at 41, Livingstone's Crystal Jones came up with a steal at half-court with seconds left and pushed the ball over to Lady Blue Bears teammate Dennisa Herndon, who drained a foul-line jumper as time expired to seal the win.

"I just went after it, and for the last shot, I took my time doing it," said Herndon.

Both teams seemed to have had a case of the jitters early in the contest, as there were far more missed shots than made ones. Virginia State (6-20) led 22-17 at halftime. Livingstone shot just 16.1 percent in the first half. Sherree Gillespie led Livingstone with 16 points.

"First of all, we have to thank God for the win," Lady Blue Bears head coach Andrew Mitchell said. "I wish I had something great that I told them, but all we did was pray, pray and pray."

With the victory, Livingstone (11-16) faces conference juggernaut Shaw, which went undefeated in league play, tonight at 9 p.m.

"We"ll show up and play hard," said Mitchell. "I wish I knew what the outcome would be. May the best team win, but not necessarily the team with the best record."

In the second game, Elizabeth City State avoided any chances of a close game by connecting on 60 percent of its shot attempts in the first half and routed Winston-Salem State, 73-59.

The Lady Vikings (13-13) bombed Winston-Salem State from behind the 3-point line early in the game, going six-for-seven from long distance. Winston-Salem State (12-14) never recovered.

"We lost the game in the first half," Lady Rams head coach John Williams said. "We didn't come out to play.

"They made a lot of 3-pointers in the first half. We knew we had to make an adjustment, and they took the ball right to us."

Elizabeth City State freshman Deanna Price led the way for the Lady Vikings, netting a triple-double, with 11 points, 13 boards and 10 assists. Lakisha Johnson added 14 points off the bench for Elizabeth City State. Shaneka Ellis and Kristen Snead chipped in with 12 and 10 points respectively.

CIAA Rookie of the Year winner Shalonda Carter led the Lady Rams with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Elizabeth City State faces former head coach Vanessa Taylor and Johnson C. Smith in second round action today at 1 p.m.

North Carolina Central overcame its own sloppy play and outlasted St. Paul's 59-54 in the third game of the day. In a game filled with turnovers and poor shooting, the Lady Eagles (14-13) were not able to pull away until the game"s final minute.

St. Paul's (2-20) forced N.C. Central into committing 26 turnovers but couldn't take advantage. The Lady Tigers had open shots all game but was unable to connect on their attempts and free throws down the stretch. N.C. Central fared no better. Holding a slim 53-49 lead, The Lady Eagles turned the ball over and fouled Azizi O'Bryant for a one-and-one. O'Bryant missed the attempt thus negating St. Paul's last chance at closing the gap and a possible win.

"We need a better game than what we had," said N.C. Central head coach Joli Robinson. "The good thing about this game is even though we were struggling, we were able to come out with a win."

N.C. Central plays Virginia Union today at 3 p.m.

The nightcap game saw one of the greatest individual displays ever in the history of the CIAA Tournament. All-CIAA guard Allyson Hardy scored 50 points in leading Bowie State to an 84-60 victory over St. Augustine's College.

Hardy, the league's leading scorer, was unconscious with her shooting touch, knocking down shots from all over the court. The 5-foot-6 Hardy did everything but dunk the ball in the game.

"It was the most focused I've ever been for a game," Hardy said.

Focused is an understatement for Hardy's performance. The junior guard scored 27 points in the first half to the delight of the crowd and went 20-for-34 on her shot attempts for the game. Hardy also pulled down 14 boards.

"The first half I thought: 'Wow!' " Hard said. "It was like the (basket) was big as the ocean. In the second half I knew they would play me tighter. So I wanted to be moving a lot and just look to continue the lead."

St. Augustine's (15-13) tried a variety of defenses but could do nothing to stop Hardy's scoring barrage.

"We played multiple defenses," said St. Augustine's head coach Antonio Davis. "There was noting we could do. I'm proud of our effort. She just played a great game."

The Lady Falcons were able to stay in the game despite Hardy's offensive assault. St. Augustine's closed the gap to 48-45 early in the second half, but was unable to score on its next 10 possessions.

Tatiana Johnson added 13 points for Bowie State (14-14). Monique Wright led St. Augustine"s with 15 points and Dana Atkins added 11.