WSSU Overwhelmed By Virginia Union In Semifinals

By L.A. Batchelor
Updated: March 7, 2005

Raleigh, NC – The Rams of Winston-Salem State University dream to get to the final of the CIAA Men’s tournament final came up short as the Panthers of Virginia Union used solid defense, rebounding and forced turnovers along with good shooting to end the Rams run in the tournament beating them 79-64 in front of a sellout crowd at the RBC center in Raleigh.

The Panthers and Rams would hit their first 13 shots (combined) without missing a field goal attempt as WSSU hit three two-point field goals and a trio of three-pointers with the Panthers answering with five two-point field goals and a pair of three-point field goals of their own, before WSSU’s Darnell Gregory missed the first shot of the game nearly four minutes after the opening tip.

Over the span, WSSU’s Alleggrie Guinn would score he first eight points for the Rams, including a reverse lay-up to start the contest, and then hit a pair of three-pointers to give himself and the Rams a quick eight points. Both teams cooled off as the first half proceeded as the Panthers and Rams settled into their half-court offenses, slowing down the tempo considerably.

The Rams then picked a bad time to go ice cold from the floor as would go 2:38 seconds without a field goal until Alleggrie Guinn broke the drought with his third three-pointer of the half. The Panthers turned however, turned a one-point deficit into an eight-point advantage as they continued to hit nearly everything that they threw towards the basket.

The Rams didn’t stay down as Guinn would hit his fourth three-point field goal of the half with 31 seconds to play in the first half, cutting VUU’s lead to only one.

The Panthers would again have an answer as All-CIAA forward Duan Crockett completed a three-point play only 28 seconds later, giving the Panthers the four-point margin that they would take to the locker room at halftime, leading 44-40.

The Panthers, who shot 60% from the floor during the first half, would continue their hot shooting in the second half as they benefited from several costly Ram turnovers which enabled them to increase their four-point lead to nine points at 55-46 with just over 13 minutes to play in the contest.

The Panthers slowed the game down, using a ball-control offense, taking good shots and as a result were able to keep their lead at seven points, ahead 57-50, as the two teams headed to their benches for a media timeout with 11:29 left to play. The nationally-ranked Panthers would come out even stronger following the television break as Virginia Union promptly went on a 6-0 run to push their lead to an insurmountable 15 points.

The 15-point margin is one that the Rams would never be able to overcome as WSSU’s could never cut the VUU lead to less than 11 points en route to the 79-64 defeat.

Leading the way for the Rams was Alleggrie Guinn who scored 17 points on the evening, leading three WSSU players into double-digits. Darius Hargrove led the Panthers with 21 points as he was joined by three players in double-figures.

With the loss, the Rams fall to 22-7 on the season, and will await Sunday evening’s NCAA Division II Playoff selection show to see if they continue on to the NCAA National Playoffs. The Rams are currently slated to be the South Atlantic Region’s fifth seed, and are virtual shoe-ins to receive an invitation to the playoffs.

The Panthers went on to beat the Broncos of Fayetteville State University to earn their second consecutive CIAA title Saturday.

The Rams may get a chance at revenge in next weekend’s NCAA Division II national playoffs as the two teams are slated (as of press time) to face one another in intra-region playoff action from the campus of Bowie State University.