Virginia Union Makes it a 3-peat

By L.A. Batchelor
Updated: March 5, 2006

NORTH CAROLINA— – For the Panthers of Virginia Union, it was another test of will and determination as the Golden Bulls of Johnson C. Smith showed they belong in this year’s CIAA Tournament final, but in the end, it was the Panthers of Virginia Union holding on and holding off Johnson C Smith 71-64 winning an unprecidented 3rd straight CIAA Tournament championship and 20th in the school’s history at the Bobcats Arena in Charlotte, NC. Virginia Union is also the first team to win three straight CIAA titles against three different teams.

The Golden Bulls, playing in their hometown, led 31-29 at halftime behind the scoring of All-CIAA players Charles Clark and John Fulton. The Golden Bulls held the Panthers to 32 percent shooting in the first half, but rebounding kept the Panthers close. The Panthers had to battle turnovers and foul trouble throughout the game but thanks to 47 percent shooting from the floor and solid defense, the Panthers kept the game close enough to win it at the end.

The score stayed tight in the second half, but Virginia Union ran into foul trouble as All-CIAA standouts Duan Crockett and Brad Byerson both picked up four fouls. With the scored tied at 58-58, the Panthers took a two point lead when Darius Hargrove hit a jumper with less than a minute to play making the score 64-62. After a basket by the Golden Bulls tied the game at 64, the Panthers clamped down on defense and ran off the games final 7 points making the final of the 61st annual CIAA Tournament men’s basketball game 71-64.

The title was the 13th in the 28-year career of VUU head coach Dave Robbins, and secured the number-one spot in the NCAA’s South Atlantic Region when the NCAA Division II tournament begins March 11.

Virginia Union University’s Darius Hargrove scored 21 points while senior Duan Crockett added 19 points and Duan Crockett was named most valuable player of this years’s tournamen and Coach Robbins was named this year’s outstanding coach.

The Panthers finished the season 25-3 overall and won their 17th title overall in 22 appearances including the last four title games. The Golden Bulls, making their first title appearance since 2002, dropped to 23-7 overall.

Hargrove, the CIAA player of the year, led the way for the Panthers with 21 points and Crockett added 19.

Charles Clark, an All-CIAA player, led the Golden Bulls with 23 points followed by John Fulton, the CIAA defensive player of the year, with 18 points. Maurice Hooper added 10 points for Smith.

Joining Crockett and Clark on the All-CIAA Tournanment team were Byerson, Hargrove, Johnson C Smith’s Maurice Hooper, John Fulton, Virginia State’s Mike Askew, Bowie State’s Kevin Bell and Elizabeth City State’s Maurice Wilkerson.