Shaw is playing like a basketball team that believes it can make noise at next week’s CIAA tournament.
Andre Paulk scored a game-high 25 points in the Bears’ 75-68 win against J.C. Smith in the CIAA regular season finale on Saturday at Brayboy Gym to complete the season sweep. The Bears (10-16, 4-6), winners of four of their last five games, rallied behind Paulk, who hit 9-of-17 shots to go with nine rebounds and five assists.
“I’m an energy guy,” he said. “When I step up, I get everybody involved. We just played hard as a team.”
J.C. Smith (14-11, 4-6) couldn’t keep up with Paulk, a 6-foot-4 senior, and 6-3 backcourt court mate Larry Richardson, a freshman who dropped 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting. They combined for 6-of-10 from 3-point range, and exploited J.C. Smith off the dribble while Shaw dominated the boards 36-23, including 14-7 on the offensive end to keep possessions alive. Bears freshman forward DeAaron Ward was especially effective with nine rebounds off the bench, including five on offense.
“We weren’t ready tonight,” Golden Bulls coach Steve Joyner said. “They were better on the boards more than we were, they jumped up two or three times when we jumped once. The guards had an outstanding ball game and we couldn’t defend them. They had an outstanding inside game. They just beat us in every category they wanted to beat us in.”
J.C. Smith, which beat Winston-Salem State on Friday to conclude an overtime game suspended from Wednesday, was efficient on offense, hitting 26-of-50 shots (52 percent). Three Golden Bulls hit double digits, led by Emilio Parks’ 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting while LaMarquis Letchaw added 12 and Antwan Wilkerson 10, but struggled to neutralize Shaw’s intensity, size and rebounding.
“When there’s energy like that and everybody’s doing their job, it’s tough to beat us,” Paulk said.
Shaw used its inside-out approach to build a 32-31 halftime lead, with Joe Reid scoring 11 points of his 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting and Paulk chipping in 10 on 4-of-6 from the floor. The Golden Bulls responded by outscoring the Bears 15-7 over the final 4 minutes, 4 seconds to pull to within a point.
“It’s a reoccurrence and reappearance of what we’ve been experiencing all season long – not getting ready to play each ball game,” Joyner said.
Parks, who struggled to get open against the Bears’ zone early, found seams late to lead J.C. Smith with 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting. As a team, the Golden Bulls connected on 54.5 percent of their shots (12-of-22) compared to Shaw’s 48.3 percent (14-of-29), but the Bears compensated by dominated on the boards by a 19-10 margin, included 8-1 on the offensive end.