02/26/04 — CIAA Roundup, day 3

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CIAA Roundup, day 3

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on February 26, 2004 1:55 PM

RALEIGH -- The North Carolina Central men's basketball team just might have finally turned the corner on their season.

After playing just .500 basketball for the year -- at times looking like world-beaters one minute and a last place team the next, the Eagles finally put it all together and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a 72-69 win over Elizabeth City State last night in first-round men's action of the 2004 CIAA Tournament at the RBC Center in Raleigh.

David Young nailed a 3-point shot with just 3.4 seconds remaining in the game to give N.C. Central (14-12) the win after an improbable comeback from a 21-point deficit in the second half.

Young, a transfer from Xavier, drained a trey to tie the game at 69 with 52.5 seconds remaining in the contest.

"I told [Curtis] Knight to take [the ball] out because I wanted the shot," Young, a senior guard said. "I hesitated just a moment to set my man up. I knew I was going to shoot over him."

And shoot over his man, Young did, with all the confidence of Michael Jordan in the clutch.

It was the kind of game N.C. Central head coach Phil Spence has been wanting from his team all season. "It was one heckuva win," Spence said. "Our guys didn't quit and they had many chances to. The guys showed the heart of a champion."

With the Eagles trailing 53-32 with 14:30 remaining in second half, Spence knew it was up to his players to decide whether or not they wanted to extend their season.

"I told the young men that was not the final score," Spence said. "I told them if they did their best we could live with that."

James Tucker led the Eagles with a game-high 22 points. East Carolina transfer Jonathan Moore scored 14 points before fouling out with 1:55 remaining in the game. Devin Mooring and Adama Diggs paced Elizabeth City State (11-17) with 16 points apiece.

With the win, N.C. Central advances to the quarterfinals to face defending champion Bowie State tonight at 7:00 p.m.

Shaw University found redemption for a disappointing season that saw injuries to key players and came away with a 72-65 victory over Livingstone College Wednesday night.

Shaw, (12-15) still reeling over the death of longtime radio play-by-play announcer Chester Davis who died of a heart-related illness this past Monday, outlasted a tough Blue Bears team that had every intention of coming away with a win.

Livingstone (3-23) traded baskets with the Bears the entire game and even took a 32-26 lead into halftime.

Shaw made adjustments on both ends of the court in the second half and found a way to get the ball inside to their big man, CIAA Defensive Player of the Year Anthony Greenup. Greenup, one of the nation?s leaders in field goal percentage connected on eight of his 10 shots and scored on a variety of highlight reel dunks to keep Shaw in the contest before the Bears finally pulled away.

Shaw head coach Michael Bernard was pleased with his team's effort. "We had five guys in double figures, and that's the way we like to play, and basically it's a win." Bernard said. "I think we did a much better job defensively in the second half and overall, and now, we are on to the second round."

Greenup led Shaw's balanced attack with 19 points, 11 boards and three blocks. Cordell Maxwell added 14 points and nine rebounds.

Shaw faces Fayetteville State, the top seed in the Western Division, today at 3:00 p.m.

Virginia State advanced to the second round of the CIAA Tournament for the first time since 1998 with a 67-58 victory over Winston-Salem State Wednesday.

The Trojans (15-13) looked as though they might suffer yet another tough first-round defeat at the hands of Winston-Salem State, who overcame a late game deficit to defeat them last year.

The Rams (16-12) were in a position to take the lead midway through the second half, but Virginia State held tough, hitting several key baskets and free throws down the stretch.

Rodney Henry scored 14 points to lead Virginia State. Vincent Sessoms paced Winston-Salem State with 18 points and eight boards.

Virginia State will face St. Augustine's College tonight at 9:00 p.m.

Johnson C. Smith shook off a sluggish start, but got its game in gear and streaked to an 87-66 win over St. Paul's.

St. Paul?s (3-23) controlled the tempo for most of the game, but the Tigers couldn't stop Johnson C. Smith's scoring runs in the second half.

The Golden Bulls (16-12) had a series of defensive lapses in the first half but still came a way with a 43-31 lead at the intermission.

John Fulton led the way for the Golden Bulls with 27 points and 13 rebounds. Chris Clyburn added 18 points. Jerome Givens scored 11 points and had 11 assists.

Johnson C. Smith squares off with top Eastern Division seed Virginia Union today at 1:00 p.m.