Saturday is championship day for Shaw’s women at the CIAA tournament.
The Bears won their fourth straight league title and seventh in nine years at Time Warner Cable Arena with a 73-70 win against Fayetteville State to extend the CIAA’s longest-running dynasty. Shaw (21-8), the South Division’s No. 2 seed, answered every challenge Fayetteville State (21-7) offered, including pulling to within a point with 1 minute, 34 seconds remaining.
“Whenever we play Fayetteville, it’s always the same type of game,” Bears coach Jacques Curtis said. “Whoever wins the battle of the boards and takes the most free throws and make them wins the game. Every time we play them, that’s the mirror of the game.”
Shaw came out on top on both counts, outrebounding the Broncos 41-37 and going 11 for 21 at the line compared to Fayetteville State’s 10 of 13. The Bears’ depth also was an asset, with Shaw’s bench outscoring the Broncos’ 23-10.
Four Bears scored in double figures, with Kamiya Burwell tossing in 18 points on 5-of-10 shooting, backed by 14 each from Diamond Mitchell and Ariel Hatchell and 10 from Verdine Warner.
Deja Middleton paced South No. 1 seed Fayetteville State with 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting, Amber Calvin’s 18 and De’Aira Smith’s 10.
Shaw led by 12 in the first half, but couldn’t deliver the knockout blow, primarily because Middleton punished the Bears on the low block. Fayetteville State stayed in contention and climbed to within 69-68 on Calvin’s three-point play, but Shaw responded with consecutive free throws by Burwell and a couple of defensive stops to quell the threat.
“The girls did an excellent job of getting stops when we needed stops,” Curtis said. We knew they would make a run at some point. No good team you can keep down all the time.”
Fayetteville State scored the first three points, but Shaw quickly gained control to lead 42-33 at recess. The Bears got nine points from Ariel Hatcher off the bench and Kamiya Burwell and Micah Brooks added eight each to spark the Shaw effort.
Fayetteville State center Deja Middleton kept the Broncos in the hunt with 14 points, but they couldn’t generate enough stops against Shaw, which hit 16-of-30 field goal attempts (53.3 percent) compared to Fayetteville State’s 43.3 (13 of 30).