BALTIMORE – CIAA Player of the Year Bryanna Brown erupted for 28 points and Joy Morton sparked a late first-half run to key top seed Lincoln (Pa.) to its first-ever CIAA women’s tournament championship with a 67-52 victory over second seed Elizabeth City State at the Royal Farms Arena on Saturday.
Lincoln (22-7 overall) finished off ECSU with a 20-8 run in the final seven minutes to pull away from a 47-44 lead. Brown, named Tournament MVP, scored eight points during the spurt. The Vikings (21-7 overall) tried to make a dent in their 10-point halftime deficit but got as close as three points before the Lions’ title-clinching run.
Morton added 12 points for the Lions, who earned the CIAA’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament. Jade Young had 11 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals and Shantel Cheeks totaled nine points.
Sireann Pitts, the CIAA Defensive Player of the Year, stood out for Elizabeth City State with 15 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks. Felicia Jackson added 10 points, five assists and four rebounds for the Vikings, who led 22-21 with 4:45 in the second period.
It was then that Morton sparked what turned out to be a game-changing run. She drained two three-pointers and scored on a nifty layup during a 13-2 surge that gave the Vikings a 34-24 halftime lead.
The Lions maintained their working margin throughout the second half and closed out strong to gain the title. The Vikings will await the release of the NCAA Division II Tournament brackets to see if they qualified.
Brown, the Tournament MVP, led the CIAA All-Tournament team which included teammate Young, Destiny Coleman of Claflin, Natalia Leaks of Virginia State, Pitts and Naterria Luster of Elizabeth City State, Amaya Tucker and O’Shea Hartley of Winston-Salem State, and Jamiah Lane and Andresia Alexander of Livingstone.
Livingstone captured the Sportsmanship Award. The women’s bracket featured several upsets this week, but the conference’s top two teams avoided the pratfalls to meet in the CIAA Title game.
The contest showcased two teams gunning for their first-ever conference crown and two coaches – Janice Washington of Lincoln and Tynesha Lewis of ECSU – who led their teams to the title game in their first season.