Charlotte, NC – Donnell Frayer, Jr. scored a game-high 20 points and Cornellius Reynolds added 13 points as the Claflin University men’s basketball team upset the No. 1 seeded team in the Northern Division Virginia State University (VSU) in the quarterfinal round of the 2020 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) men’s basketball tournament at Bojangles’ Coliseum on Wednesday.
Claflin, who entered the tournament as the No. 4 seed in the Southern Division, improves to 15-15 and advance to face the winner of the Livingstone/Winston-Salem State game in the semifinal on Friday, Feb. 28 at the Spectrum Center. Virginia State season concludes with a 19-9 record.
Claflin’s Brandon Davis came off the bench to contribute eight points and six rebounds.
Virginia State was led in scoring by Andrew Corum with 19 points with five rebounds. The Trojans had two players to score in double-figures as Armond Griebe finished with 13 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
The contest was a tale of two halves with Claflin winning the first (35-24) and Virginia State winning the second (34-28).
The second half of the contest was a back-and-forth battle down the stretch.
After going into intermission down 35-24, the Trojans scored the first six points of the second stanza to cut the deficit to five, 35-30, at the 18:31 mark.
Claflin then scored five straight points to push its lead to 10 (40-30) with 17:07 remaining in the contest but Virginia State remained resilient. The Trojans scored six unanswered points to pull within four (40-36), forcing a Claflin timeout at the 15:18 mark.
Virginia State pulled within one, 40-39, at the 13:18 mark but a short jumper by Frayer, Jr. pushed the lead back to three with 12:16 remaining. The Trojans managed to cut the deficit to one on several occasions and took its first lead as Corum hit a teardrop with 1:48 left in the contest, 56-55.
The Panthers regained the lead 28 seconds later as Jailen Williams hit two free throws at the 1:20 mark to put Claflin up by one, 57-56. Virginia State took its last lead of the game at 1:04 as Corum put back a three-point miss, 58-57. The Panthers scored the final six points of the contest for the five-point margin of victory.
Claflin came out aggressive in the first half. After the teams exchanged baskets over the first eight points, the Panthers offense picked up the intensity.
The Panthers used a 10-0 run over a five-plus minute period to take a 14-4 run capped off by a dunk by Reynolds to take a 14-4 lead with 12:15 left in the first half.
Virginia State’s Vedder converted an old-fashion three-point play at the 11:41 mark to stop the run but Frayer, Jr. converted a three-point play one minute later to push the lead back to 10 (17-7) at the 11:15 mark.
The Trojans offense picked up over the next three minutes. Over that period, VSU cut the lead in half, 21-16, with 8:13 remaining as Armond Griebe hit a three-pointer.
Reynolds hit a three-pointer under two minutes later to push the lead back to eight, 24-16. The Trojans slowly chipped away at the lead, cutting the deficit to four, 24-20, forcing Claflin into a timeout with 4:56 remaining.
The Panthers closed the first half on a 9-4 run to go into intermission up by 11.
Claflin scored 17 points off VSU 16 first-half turnovers. The Trojans had 21 turnovers in the contest.