COLUMBUS, Ohio  — Virginia Union University women’s basketball coach AnnMarie Gilbert has previously used the word resilient to describe this year’s Panthers.

They showed it on Wednesday when they punched their ticket to the NCAA national championship.

Virginia Union defeated California Baptist 86-81 to reach the NCAA Division II national championship. They face Ashland University at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 24.

Ashley Smith scored a game-high 28 points, 22 coming in the second half. Lady Walker scored 18 points and grabbed 19 rebounds. Alexis Johnson scored 20 points with nine rebounds.

The Lancers led the majority of the game but the Panthers closed the game on a 10-2 run.

Johnson tied the game at 76-76 with a put back with just under three minutes remaining. The Lancers answered with a 3-pointer, but Smith followed with a layup before Johnson hit a jumper to give Union a 80-79 lead.

Spivey’s lay up made it 82-79 and Johnson hit two free throws with 19 seconds left to make it 84-79, capping a 8-0 run for the Panthers.

Cal answered with a layup but Smith and Walker each hit a free throw over the final 11 seconds to seal the victory.

The Lancers led by as many as 12 points in the first half. They finished the game 15 of 40 from 3-point range.

The Panthers are looking for the second national championship in school history after winning the 1983 national title.

Courtesy: VUU Athletics


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