The Virginia Union Panthers are now the last HBCU team remaining in the Division II basketball tournament following their 66-64 first-round win over Fairmont State.
Virginia Union was one of four HBCU teams selected for the men’s basketball tournament. Winston-Salem State and Tuskegee fell short of upsets against Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) and West Alabama, respectively while Miles suffered a one-sided loss to Nova Southeastern.
Leading the charge for the Panthers was CIAA Player of the Year Robert Osborne, who finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds along with four steals.
He was one of three players to score in double figures for the Panthers along with Devon Sims, who scored 14 points and Khalil Diggins-Williams, who had 10 points.
FINAL. VUU 66 Fairmont State 64
— Virginia Union Sport (@VUUPanthers) March 12, 2023
The Panthers got off to a slow start falling behind 18-7 in the first 10 minutes of the game. A big reason for their struggles was missed high-percentage looks thanks to the immense pressure from the Fairmont State defense.
Virginia Union battled back quickly trimming the Fairmont State lead to just one point with 6:29 left in the half. At the end of the half, Fairmont held a 35-31 lead.
The second half, for a while, was controlled by Fairmont State which built a lead peaking at 59-50.
Virginia Union ended the game on a 16-5 run culminated by a go-ahead 3-pointer from Diggins-Williams to permanently take the lead with 2:30 remaining.
This is the first time Virginia Union has won a game in the DII tournament since 2006 when they made it to the national championship game.
Virginia Union will look to repeat history when they face the top-seeded IUP.
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