Chowan falls out of CIAA tourney

Published 10:36 pm Friday, March 2, 2012

Johnson C. Smith University is back in the CIAA Tournament championship game.

Shavanda Price scored 18 points, and LaQwesha Gamble added 17 points and 15 rebounds to spark the Lady Golden Bulls to a 68-55 women’s semifinal win over Chowan University Friday at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C.

The victory sets up a Saturday rematch between the Lady Golden Bulls (22-5) and defending CIAA champion Shaw University at 5 p.m. Shaw defeated JCSU 62-56 to win the league crown in 2011.

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Terran Quattlebaum added 12 points for the Lady Golden Bulls, who led by as many as 21 points in the second half. The Lady Golden Bulls scored 18 points off 12 Chowan turnovers and made 19-of-28 free throws to offset 35-percent shooting.

Summer Curtis led the Hawks (12-17) with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Suffolk’s Ransheda Jennings added 11 points and seven rebounds in her final college game.

The Hawks never led but continued to fight. Courtnee Springs made a three-pointer to complete a 15-3 run to cut their deficit to 55-46. They missed two layups, which would have trimmed the margin to seven. The Lady Golden Bulls then scored 11 consecutive points capped by LaKendra Wilkerson’s jumper to push the lead to 66-46 with 2:39 remaining.

“I’m proud of the girls,” said Chowan head coach Patrick Mashuda, whose squad reached the semifinals for the first time in the three years Chowan has been in the league. “We played for 40 minutes.”

The Lady Golden Bulls made 11 of 17 free throws and outscored the Hawks 9-0 off seven turnovers to build their lead in the first half. The game was close early, but Quattlebaum nailed a three-pointer to cap a 19-6 run for a 35-20 lead with 1:30 remaining in the first half. Gamble scored five points, and Price added four points during the run.

The Hawks scored four straight points to end the half. They had a chance to trim their deficit to single digits, but Gamble ended the first half with an emphatic block at the horn.

Chowan was the surprise team in the women’s tournament. A No. 5 Northern Division seed, the Hawks reached the semifinals by beating higher seeded teams the first two days of the tournament. They came back to beat Fayetteville State, a No.-4 Southern Division seed, 51-50 in the first round. The 52-38 quarterfinal victory over Northern Division champion Virginia Union raised eyebrows.

The dynamic backcourt duo of Talaya Lynch and Jennings spurred the Hawks to a stunningly deep run.

“We were confident going into the tournament,” Mashuda said. “Some of our losses were close. We beat Fayetteville State and split with Virginia Union in the regular season.”

The first meeting between the Hawks and the Lady Golden Bulls was no contest. The Lady Golden Bulls won in a 78-44 rout at Smith’s Brayboy Gymnasium Jan. 4 in their only meeting during the regular season. The Lady Golden Bulls outscored the Hawks 47-22 in the second half to win easily.

Before their semifinal game Friday, both teams took photos on the court with First Lady Michelle Obama as part of her Let’s Move campaign. Somehow, the Lady Golden Bulls and the Hawks regrouped from a once-in-a-lifetime experience to play ball.

Jennings said it was a great experience.

“If you had said win and you get to see her Saturday, that would have been really motivating,” Jennings said.

The First Lady will not be at Time Warner Cable Arena Saturday, but the Lady Golden Bulls will be. Their motivation is to wrest the conference crown away from Shaw.