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CIAA Update: Will the slipper fit for St. Aug’s?
CHARLOTTE — Since its inception and especially throughout the last few seasons, the CIAA Tournament has always been notorious for catching an upset or two in the early rounds.
Last year, the Fayetteville State men’s squad were last year’s Cinderella story as they rode a late season run all the way to the finals before falling to the eventual champions from Johnson C. Smith.
So far, an early candidate for a possible glass slipper are the Lady Falcons of Saint Augustine’s College. Entering the tourney with a 13-13 mark, coach Margaret Richards seventh-seeded squad appears to peaking at the right time.
After dismissing the 10th seeded Lady Vikings of Elizabeth City State 86-58 in Tuesday’s opening round, St. Aug’s would get their biggest win of the season as they defeated second-seeded Fayetteville State 76-69 at the Time Warner Cable Arena.
The win puts the Lady Falcons (15-13) in the women’s semifinals for the first time in nine years. “Defense and rebounding won this game for us,” said Richards. “But we still have a few more steps to complete.”
The one constant in both victories has been a balanced scoring attack led by CIAA Rookie of the Year Keyona Bryant and Allison Sikes. In Tuesday’s win, Sikes’ 15 points and 11 rebounds was part of five double-figure scorers for the Lady Falcons.
Bryant, who missed most of the second half of the opening win with a slight cold, would make the Lady Broncos sick during Wednesday’s victory. She poured in game-high 28 points on 7-for-12 shooting and 14-for-18 from the line, including 7-for-8 free throw attempts in a decisive two-minute stretch in the second half.
She also led both teams with 13 rebounds while Sikes added 12 rebounds for the Lady Falcons, who outrebounded the Lady Broncos 55-40. St. Aug’s, who will face third-seeded Johnson C. Smith in Friday’s semifinals at 3 p.m., hit 8 of 10 free throw attempts in the final two minutes to prevail.
The Lady Broncos (19-8) entered the game ranked fourth in the Atlantic Region. The Lady Falcons closed the game with a 23-10 run in the final 8:16. “We went to a 2-3 zone and got stops when we needed them”, said coach Richards.
Friday’s other semifinal matches top-seeded Bowie State against fourth-seeded Virginia State at 1 p.m.