CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Fayetteville State picked a good day to shoot lights out and Virginia State picked a bad day for frigid shooting.
As a result, the Broncos move on to the CIAA Tournament basketball semifinals with a 93-72 quarterfinal victory over the Trojans.
The Trojans, who are the Northern Division co-champions, were eliminated from the tournament with an 18-8 overall record. The Broncos will play in Friday’s semifinals.
Joshua Dawson led five double-figure scorers with 21 points for the Broncos, who cruised to victory after building a comfortable first-half lead. The Broncos shot a season-high 63.5 percent to win easily against the top CIAA team in points allowed and field-goal percentage defense.
“We were hungry to play the best halfcourt defensive team in the league,” Broncos’ head coach Alphonza Kee said. “Outside of making shots, we stayed focused on defense and rebounding.”
Anthony Shelton and Devin Thompson scored 17 and 14 points, respectively, off the bench for the Broncos. Torian Showers added 11 points and Juwan Addison contributed 10 points.
Addison epitomized the Broncos’ day when he weaved through several Trojans’ players and scored a running layup with the shot clock running down late in the contest.
“We play a very up tempo style and today ball went in for us, said Shelton, who led a Broncos’ bench which outscored the Trojans’ reserves 45-14.
Meanwhile, the Trojans made 36.2 percent of their shots. Lamar Kearse scored 20 points for the Trojans while Tyler Peterson and Alphonso Leary each added 12 points. Leary also had 10 rebounds.
The Trojans, who were the No. 2 Northern Division seed, struggled to score inside and from the perimeter. At one point, a VSU player missed a wide-open layup in the second half. Led by eight blocks from 7-0 center Gatlauk “Mike” Theip, the Broncos altered many shots in the paint and limited the Trojans to one shot.
“That’s what [Thiep’s] ability allows him to do,” Kee said. “He is a shot blocker and very athletic.”
The score was tight in the early moments but the Broncos quickly caught fire. They exploded on a 15-0 run to break an 18-18 tie and open a double-digit lead over the Trojans. Dawson canned a three-pointer for a 33-18 Broncos’ lead which forced the Trojans to call a timeout in an attempt to stop the momentum.
“We didn’t do a very good job of guarding the three-point line in the first half,” Trojans’ Head Coach Lonnie Blow, Jr. said. “They made a few shots and we had a bad stretch where we didn’t score. It put us in a hole. After that we had to play catch up. We didn’t shoot well and didn’t defend well but we kept fighting and kept competing. You have to tip your hat off to VSU, they did a good job.”