02/27/04 — NCCU men get controversial win

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NCCU men get controversial win

Published in Sports on February 27, 2004 1:55 PM

RALEIGH -- North Carolina Central pulled off yet another improbable win Thursday, but this time there was controversy surrounding the Eagles' 72-69 victory over top-seeded Bowie State at the 2004 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament at the RBC Center.

With N.C. Central up by three points after a Travis Knight missed free throw, Bowie State rebounded the ball with just under 10 seconds remaining in the game.

The Bulldogs raced down the court and Allen Van Norden rushed up a 3-pointer from the corner. As the ball was on its downward flight to the basket, N.C. Central forward Jason Hervey touched it with his hand. The ball bounced around the rim and fell off as time expired.

Game. End of story. The Eagles win, right?

Well, yes, but not without controversy.

The Bowie State coaching staff and players erupted off the bench to protest the no-goaltending call by the game officials, and some of the fans at the crowded RBC Center groaned in displeasure over the play.

"The referee just looked at it and then just looked away like it never happened," said Bowie State forward Letheal Cook. "He looked at it like, 'No, I?m not calling it.' That was probably the most crucial shot we probably took all game."

Said Bowie State teammate Anton Jenifer, "We weren't getting calls. We got cheated."

The N.C. Central bench felt the shot was short and would have never even touched the rim.

"I looked at it and it was short, so I went up to go get it," Hervey said. "Then, I pulled my hand back at the last second, it tipped off my fingers and almost went in. Fortunately, it didn't go in, and it wasn't goaltending."

The last play was a microcosm of a seesaw game as neither team was able to take a commanding lead in the contest.

The surprising Eagles were able to stay in the game despite being out-rebounded 53-44. The Bulldogs (22-5) made more free throws (24) than N.C. Central took (15) all game.

The Eagles (15-12) used a tough, gritty defensive strategy to keep Bowie State in their sites and were opportunistic on the offensive end.

"We feel as though we're halfway home," Eagles coach Phil Spence said. "Both games have been close, but as I said to these young men, as long as we win by half a point, we're OK."

Knight led N.C. Central with 22 points. Hervey and Mintrel Abney added 12 points respectively.

Cook powered the way for Bowie State with game highs of 27 points and 17 boards.

N.C. Central will face off against Fayetteville State in semifinals action tonight at 7 p.m.

Virginia State 75,

St. Augustine's 66

While the Eagles advanced, the same can't be said for St. Augustine's College. The Falcons, the top seed from the Western Division, came out flat against a confident Virginia State team and never recovered as the Trojans prevailed 75-66.

The Falcons picked the worst time to play a poor game.

Virginia State came out with a high-intensity game that St. Aug's failed to match early.

Defensively, the Trojans made a point to bottle up Falcons star Desmond Peoples, the CIAA Player of the Year. Peoples scored 15 points, but shot a mere three-for-10 from the field.

"Anything that could go wrong, did go wrong," said St. Aug's head coach Thomas Hargrove, who was disappointed in his team's play. "It was probably our poorest performance of the season."

The Trojans (15-13) took a 23-6 lead early in the game. The Falcons finally woke up in the second half and scratched and clawed their way back into the contest.

St. Aug's kept it close but the Trojans made timely shots and hit their free throws down the stretch to seal the deal.

"Nobody expected us to do anything," Virginia State head coach John Hill said. "I just told our players to play their hearts out."

Kamandi Hall led the way for Virginia State with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Avis Wyatt added 18 points.

With the win, Virginia State moves on to play against Virginia Union tonight at 9 p.m.

Fayetteville State 73,

Shaw 56

Shaw University's improbable run to the championship game ended with a 73-56 loss to Fayetteville State Thursday.

The Bears (12-16) were prepared and game against Fayetteville State, but Shaw was out-manned and outgunned by a talented Broncos team that could go deep into their rotation.

Shaw started out knocking down their shots in the contest, but poor shooting caught up with the Bears as the game progressed.

"Twenty-for-64 from the field, 3-of-19 from the 3-point line," Shaw head coach Mike Bernard said. "Free throws: 13-of-26. That loudly speaks for itself. When you shoot that poorly, you're just not going to win ball games."

The depth of Fayetteville State didn't help the Bears, either. After trailing 16-5 early in the game, Fayetteville State head coach Sam Hanger pulled all of but one of his starters and used his bench to climb back into the game.

"Our second group went in and really picked us up," Hanger said. "One of the things we've been telling our guys -- and I really think that they're starting to believe it -- (our opponents) might have five better than us, but let's see if they've got 10."

Ricky Williams was pretty much all of the offensive firepower for Shaw, particularly in the second half. Williams led the Bears with 18 points. Anthony Greenup added 11 points, 11 boards and six blocks.

Donell Williams led Fayetteville State (18-10) with 21 points.

Virginia Union 82

Johnson C. Smith 73

Virginia Union continued its run to get back to the title game with a 82-73 win over Johnson C. Smith.

But it wasn't easy.

After shooting the lights out early in the game and building a 42-29 lead at halftime, the Panthers (23-4) went nine minutes without scoring a basket in the second half and allowed Johnson C. Smith to creep back into the game.

"We're just glad to advance," said Virginia Union head coach Dave Robbins. "I thought we played to win in the first half and played not to lose in the second half. We were very passive."

Johnson C. Smith (16-13) knotted the game at 69 with 5:04 left in the game, and took a 71-69 advantage with just over three minutes left in the contest.

But Virginia Union went on a 13-1 to close out the game and advance to the semifinals.