A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
The Cinderella Ride is Over
Raleigh, NC – They fought hard, long and gave it their all and even had 2 shots to win it at the end, but end the end, WSSU’s Lady Rams fell one point of sending their semifinal game against Elizabeth City State Lady Vikings 62-61 at the RBC Center in Raleigh ending a Cinderella run for them in this year’s CIAA Women’s Tourney.
The game’s opening minutes saw the second-seeded Lady Vikings open up a three-point lead as 2005 CIAA Rookie of the Year Celeste Trahan converted a lay-up and free throw combination that gave Elizabeth City State University an early lead over the sluggish Lady Rams. WSSU open up shooting poorly as they missed nine of their first ten shots for a poultry 10 percent shooting.
However, it would be the Janet Robinson that propelled the Lady Rams out of their shooting misery by knocking down 3 straight jumpers that gave the Lady Rams a whopping 12 point lead; A lead that would turn out to be their largest of the first half.
Unfortunately, the Lady Rams could not hold the lead which would turn out to come back and haunt them in the second half. The Lady Vikings point guard Deanna Price and forward Celeste Trahan lead the charge back to closing the gap to only six points at 36-30 with 29 seconds to play in the half.
Leading by six, the Lady Rams took an ill-advised jump shot which the Lady Vikings rebounded, driving the length of the court where Shantel Burwell hit a long-range shot as time expired to cut the ECSU deficit to only four points at the half as WSSU led 36-32.
The second half began like the first half as the two teams traded baskets and pushed the game into an up-tempo, running game, rather than the disciplined half-court style of which both teams are accustomed.
Elizabeth City State would eventually regain the lead with 6:20 remaining in the game as Celeste Trahan would once again give the Lady Vikings the spark that they needed as she made a pair of free-throws that gave ECSU a one-point lead, 50-49. The Lady Rams then picked the most in-opportune time to go into a shooting slump which they only converted one field goal over nearly four minutes.
The Lady Rams, through tough defense, intensity and gritty play, would once again regain the lead as they went on a 5-0 run over the next minute and 11 seconds, regaining the lead at 55-51 with just under four minutes remaining in the game.
The Vikings tied the game with another pair of free throws with exactly 2:00 remaining at 57-57 setting up a finish out of a classic basketball movie.
Facing a four-point deficit, the Lady Rams promptly hit a lay-up to cut the ECSU lead to two points at 61-59. 23 seconds later, WSSU pulled down a defensive rebound, and Kadina Baldwin, who spent the majority of the game on the bench in foul trouble, would have a chance for redemption, looking to tie the game. With 42.1 seconds left, she did just that, nailing both free throws, evening the game up in the process.
ECSU would go right back to their go-to player in Trahan who had three looks at the basket after a pair of offensive rebounds. She would miss all three, and head to the free throw line after being fouled. Missing the back end of a pair of free throws, 2004 CIAA Rookie of the Year Shalonda Carter would pull down the key rebound and give the Lady Rams a chance to earn the win, and a championship berth, looking for the game-winning shot with only 13.1 seconds remaining.
WSSU would get two chances at the win with senior guard Nikki Eason missing a driving lay-up, and Carter missing the put back. Lady Ram players, coaching staff, and fans in attendance could only watch as the ball bounced harmlessly out of bounds as time expired, giving ECSU the win and earning them a CIAA title-game appearance.
Leading the way for the Lady Rams was Janet Robinson who recorded 14 points in the loss. Pacing Elizabeth City State was Celeste Trahan who tallied 24 points and pulled down 12 rebounds.
WSSU finishes the season at 15-15 overall, while Elizabeth City State improves to 17-11 and will move on to face the winner of the Shaw/NCCU game.