Lady Bears Down JCSU For Second Straight CIAA Championship
[article and photo courtesy shawbears.com]
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Shaw University wins again in the latest matchup
between two of the CIAA's premiere women's basketball programs.
Tournament MVP Aslea Williams
scored 17 points as Shaw toppled Johnson C. Smith University 72-66
Saturday (March 3) in the CIAA championship game at Time Warner Cable
Arena. The Lady Bears captured their second straight CIAA title and
seventh in 10 seasons.
Kyria Buford added 11 points and Crystal Harris
came off the bench to score 10 points for the Lady Bears (23-6
overall), who lost only one CIAA game this season. That defeat occurred
at the hands of the Lady Golden Bulls as both teams split during the
regular season. The Lady Bears own the Lady Golden Bulls during the
postseason, however. They are 5-0 against the Lady Golden Bulls in the
league title game since 2003.
"We expected to win," Buford said afterward. "But we knew we couldn't
take them for granted. That's what we did the first time against them."
LaQwesha Gamble led the Lady Golden Bulls (22-6) with a game-high 23
points and took down 13 rebounds for the Lady Golden Bulls, who took
more shot attempts (87-58), snagged more offensive rebounds (29-9),
forced 22 turnovers and outscored the Lady Bears 41-36 in the second
Despite being outplayed in several categories, the Bears never
wavered in winning their ninth consecutive game. Every time the Lady
Golden Bulls pulled close, the Lady Bears stepped on the pedal to gain
Ultimately, the Lady Golden Bulls were undone by the size and depth
of the Lady Bears, the Southern Division champions. The combination of
both wore down the Lady Golden Bulls, who often misfired from close
range. The Lady Golden Bulls attempted shots over the inside players
of the Lady Bears with little success. Other times, they missed layups
in transition. JCSU shot 29.9 percent from the floor.
On the other end of the court, Johnson C. Smith could not stop the
inside attack of Williams, Buford and Harris, who all stand 6-foot-1.
They combined for over half of the Lady Bears' points. Sequoyah Griffin
added nine points and seven rebounds while Victoria Tanner chipped in six points and five rebounds for the Lady Bears, who shot 51.7 percent.
Four Lady Golden Bulls played 30 or more minutes. No player from Shaw played over 27 minutes.
"We are probably the deepest team in the conference," said Jacques
Curtis, who has won seven CIAA crowns as Shaw head coach. "Teams will
make a run at us but eventually that run will stop because you will run
out of gas. Eventually we will bring in three to four more people and
keep making a run."
Ashley McGee added 13 points and LaKendra Wilkerson had 12 points and
eight rebounds for the Lady Golden Bulls. Shavonda Price scored eight
points and collected 10 rebounds.
The Lady Bears led 48-34 three minutes into the second half on a jumper by Brittany Ransom.
The Lady Golden Bulls then scored 11 straight points to close within
48-45. In true Shaw fashion, the Lady Bears responded with five
consecutive points capped by a Ransom three-pointer for an eight point
That's how the game would go the rest of the half. The Lady Golden
Bulls would make a run, only for the Lady Bears to extend the margin
with a run of their own.
"You can call it confident or cocky but that's Shaw," said the Lady Bears' Brittney Spencer. "We go hard every day and we expect to win, nothing else."
The Lady Bears tied Norfolk State University for the most CIAA
women's titles with nine. Coach Curtis fully expects to break the record
next season. First, the goal of the Lady Bears is to make a deep
postseason run in the NCAA Division II Tournament. Last year, the Lady
Bears made it all the way to the national semifinals.
The Lady Bears defeated the Lady Golden Bulls in the Atlantic
Regional final en route to the Division II Final Four last season. This
season, the Lady Golden Bulls are currently second and the Lady Bears
are fourth in the region.
"We are trying to get a national championship," Curtis said. "People
didn't believe we were better than last year. They thought we were a
one-person team with DeMaria Liles. This year, somebody different is
always going to step up because we are a hard group to defend."
JCSU head coach Vanessa Taylor is disappointed in the loss, but is certain that the Lady Golden Bulls' season is not over.
"It hurts right now," Taylor said. "All the work they put in
getting to this opportunity and not having it come out the way we
planned, it hurts. We are down but not out. We will take these licks,
dry our tears but we won't stay too long in this moment because,
fortunately, basketball is not over and not too many teams can say
Williams scored 10 points on 5-for-9 shooting to guide the Lady Bears
to a 36-25 halftime lead. Buford added seven points while Spencer and
Harris both added six points for the Lady Bears, who shot 45.7 percent
from the floor.
Gamble scored 12 points but no other player scored five points or
more for the Lady Golden Bulls, who went cold late in the first half for
a 25.6 shooting percentage. The Lady Golden Bulls even missed many of
their second-chance attempts despite outrebounding the Lady Bears 15-5
on the offensive boards.
Gamble scored 10 of JCSU's first 11 points to give her team a
four-point lead early. The momentum swung towards the Lady Bears once
they went to their bench. Led by their reserves, the Lady Bears went on a
21-4 spurt to go up 28-15 with 7:29 left in the first half. The lead
stayed between 11 and 13 points for the Lady Bears the rest of the half.
Led by the foursome of Harris, Spencer, Enonge Stovall, and Tanner, the Lady Bears outscored the Lady Golden Bulls 16-4 in bench points.
Williams heads the 2012 CIAA All-Tournament women's team. The squad
included her teammates Buford and Harris, Juliette Turner of Bowie
State, Talaya Lynch of Chowan, Price of Johnson C. Smith, Courtney
Medley of Winston-Salem State, Janelle Murphy of Chowan, Gamble of
Johnson C. Smith and Keyona Bryant of Saint Augustine's College.
Though the Lady Golden Bulls lost, they didn't go home empty handed. They won the 2012 CIAA women's team sportsmanship award.
In the first matchup this season, the Lady Golden Bulls nipped the
Lady Bears 68-66 Feb. 4 at home. It was the only conference loss for the
Lady Bears during the regular season. The Lady Bears gained revenge in
Raleigh, N.C., winning by a lopsided 86-56 score Feb. 13.
Head coaches Curtis of Shaw and Taylor of JCSU are two of the premier
coaches in the CIAA. Curtis has won over 250 games as Shaw women's
coach. The Lady Bears have qualified for the NCAA Division II
Tournament six times, won three regional titles, reached the Elite Eight
three times and the national semifinals last season.
Taylor won the 2011 CIAA women's basketball coach of the year award,
and has taken JCSU to the CIAA finals seven times with the Lady Golden
Bulls winning the crown in 2009. She is the winningest women's
basketball coach at JCSU with over 200 victories. Last season, the Lady
Golden Bulls won their first ever regional tournament game and were
ranked No. 22 in the final USA Today/ESPN Coaches Top 25 poll.
The Lady Golden Bulls, seeded No. 2 in the Southern Division,
defeated Winston-Salem State University 75-70 and Chowan University
68-55 to make it to the title game. The Lady Bears beat Saint
Augustine's College 80-73 and Bowie State University 59-44 to earn a
ticket to the championship game.
Johnson C. Smith
Time Warner Cable Arena - Charlote, NC
||Johnson C. Smith
|Field Goal %
|Pts off Turnovers
|2nd Chance Pts
|Pts in the Paint
Shaw University was founded in 1865 and is the oldest historically
black university in the south. Shaw University is a private, co-educational
liberal arts University, that awards degrees at both the undergraduate and
graduate levels. The primary mission of Shaw University is teaching with the
commitment to maintain excellence in research and academic programs that foster
intellectual enhancement and technological skills.