The Virginia Union University men’s basketball team claimed their first CIAA title since 2006 with an 82-52 victory over Johnson C. Smith University Saturday night at the Spectrum Center.
With the victory, Virginia Union is now the fifth team since 1975 to have both the men’s and women’s teams to claim the title in the same year; while receiving the CIAA’s automatic bid to the 2018 NCAA Division II Tournament. The last team to pull of the men’s and women’s sweep was Shaw University in 2011.
Todd Hughes scored a game-high 22 points and six rebounds to lead the offensive attack for VUU. Andre Walker added a double-double, 19 points and 11 rebounds while William Jenkins also chipped in a double-double, 16 points and 11 rebounds. Kory Cooley would round out the double digit scoring for the Panthers with 13 points in the win.
The first half saw four ties and five lead changes with Johnson C. Smith outscoring the Panthers 14-10 in the paint, (5-4) points off turnovers, and (8-3) in bench points. Virginia Union claimed the edge (10-6) in second chance points; while both teams recorded two fast break points, respectively.
Arthur Bennett (Powder Springs, GA) recorded the opening points of the game on a lay-up at the 18:37 mark, gifting the Golden Bulls a quick 2-0 lead. Free-throws off the finger-tips of Jenkins knotted the game at 2-2. CIAA Player of the Year Robert Davis (West Friendship, MD) added a jumper at the 17:20 mark to take a 4-2 lead.
A back-and-forth half, the Panthers grabbed the momentum with 3:21 remaining (27-26) off a three-pointer from Hughes and took a 36-28 lead into the locker room, after shooting 41.4 percent (12-of-29) from the floor, 33.3 percent (4-of-12) from behind the arc, and 88.9 percent (8-of-9) from the line.
JCSU closed out the half, shooting 36.7 percent (11-of-30) from the field, 30 percent (3-of-10) from downtown, and 50 percent (3-of-6) from the charity stripe. Union led by as much as eight during the half; while out-rebounding the Golden Bulls (24-14).
The second half would be all VUU as the Panthers opened up the stanza with a 19-7 run to lead 55-36 over Johnson C. Smith with 11:16 left in regulation. The Golden Bulls trimmed at the deficit with a 3-point play from Roddric Ross (Forest City, NC) but VUU then ballooned to tenacious lead after producing a 23-9 scoring margin that would eventually lead to the Panthers outscoring Johnson C. Smith, 46-24 and the Panthers cruising to the victory.
Davis was the only Golden Bull who reached double digits in scoring, he finished with 12 points, three rebounds and three steals.
For the contest, Virginia Union shot 50 percent from the floor (28-56), connecting 7-of-18 (38.9 percent) from long distance and 19-of-28 (67.9 percent) from the charity stripe whereas the Golden Bulls were responsible for 19-of-60 (31.7 percent) from field goal range, 25 percent (5-20) from the free-throw line and 53.9 percent (9-17) from the charity stripe.
Cory and Hughes was named to the 2018 All-Tournament team as Cory was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.