College Basketball

Inside the CIAA basketball tournament

St. Augustine’s coach Tony Sheals will direct his team in the first men’s game of the CIAA tournament at 6:40 p.m. Tuesday. The Falcons play Elizabeth City State.
St. Augustine’s coach Tony Sheals will direct his team in the first men’s game of the CIAA tournament at 6:40 p.m. Tuesday. The Falcons play Elizabeth City State. rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

Men’s favorite

Bowie State: The Bulldogs earned a share of the North Division championship and were consistently good all season.

Men’s contenders

Virginia State: The Trojans responded to second-year coach Lonnie Blow by earning a tie atop the North. Virginia State plays well as a team.

Livingstone: The Blue Bears lost the CIAA’s best backcourt from last year’s championship squad yet earned the South Division’s No. 2 seed.

Winston-Salem State: The Rams have one of the league’s best all-around defenders in WyKevin Bazemore (9.8 rebounds per game) and motivation from losing last year’s title to Livingstone.

Players to watch

Cameron Knox, Bowie State, G, 5-11, Sr.: CIAA player of the year is in the top five in scoring (17.7 ppg), field goals made, 3-pointers made and steals.

Eric Dubose, Livingstone, G, 6-1, Jr.: Shelby native is one of the league’s best scorers at 15.7 points per game.

Tyrece Little, Virginia State, F, 6-3, Sr.: Tough rebounder (8.3 per game) earned defensive player of the year honor.

Donta Harper, Winston-Salem State, F, 6-7, Sr.: Gardner-Webb transfer teams with fellow all-conference pick WyKevin Bazemore to form an efficient frontcourt.

Kyree Bethel, Chowan, G, 6-2, Sr.: Hawks’ leading scorer (13.8 ppg) hit 43.5 percent of 3-point attempts.

By the numbers

7 Assists per game average by Fayetteville State guard Joshua Dawson, tops in the CIAA.

16 The number of CIAA games J.C. Smith forward Stedmon Lemon has scored in double figures.

18 Points per game scored by St. Augustine’s Raheem Joliffe, best in the league.

Women’s favorite

Shaw: Conversation starts and ends with the Bears, who are aiming for their fifth straight title. They have the best player in center Verdine Warner and the top coach in Jacques Curtis.

Women’s contenders

Livingstone: The Blue Bears will have a chip on their shoulder after self-reporting an ineligible player and falling from South champs to third seed.

Lincoln: The Lions were a surprise in the North at 19-7. They are the top seed and capable of advancing to the final.

J.C. Smith: The Golden Bulls won 20 games for the first time under coach Steve Joyner Jr. but Shaw is the hurdle they have yet to clear.

Players to watch

Verdine Warner, Shaw, C, 6-3, Jr.: CIAA’s player of the year is the total package. She is top three in points (20.0 ppg), blocked shots (59), rebounds (12.7) and field-goal percentage (57.3).

Deja Middleton, Fayetteville State, C, 6-4, Jr.: Defensive player of the year averaged 11.9 rebounds and blocked a CIAA-high 63 shots.

Jadda Jefferies, Elizabeth City State, G, 5-4, Sr.: The CIAA’s top scorer at 20.8 points per game also logged the most playing time at 1,021 minutes.

Cierra York, Livingstone, G, 5-9, Sr.: Averages 13.1 points per game and hits 31.6 percent of her 3-point attempts.

Zephrah Pam, Lincoln, C, 6-0, Sr.: The Lions’ anchor on both ends of the floor, she averages 11.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

By the numbers

4 Consecutive titles won by Shaw. A championship this week would set a conference mark.

10 Consecutive years the CIAA tournament has been played in Charlotte.

86 Steals by Lincoln’s Amani Clark.

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