College Basketball

St. Augustine’s leans on defense to top ECSU

Livingstone pep band members David Draper, left, and Monique Thomas, right, both juniors from Detroit, hold up their euphoniums as they cheer on their team Tuesday.  The Blue Bears defeated Bowie State 91-73 during the first round of the women's CIAA tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on Tuesday.
Livingstone pep band members David Draper, left, and Monique Thomas, right, both juniors from Detroit, hold up their euphoniums as they cheer on their team Tuesday. The Blue Bears defeated Bowie State 91-73 during the first round of the women's CIAA tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on Tuesday. rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

St. Augustine’s stuck to its recipe for success in the first round of the men’s CIAA tournament.

The Falcons leaned on rebounding and defense to beat Elizabeth City State 61-54 at Time Warner Cable Arena for coach MarQus Johnson’s first tournament victory.

Neither team shot well from the field (St. Augustine’s shot 30.9 percent to Elizabeth City State’s 30.4), but the Falcons made plays at the right time to advance.

“Tonight was a great team effort, and I think that that evident in the way we played,” Johnson said. “We defended well, we rebounded well, and that’s one thing I always preach to my players – if we defend well and rebound well, we’ll be in a lot of ball games.”

The Falcons play Chowan, the fouth seed from the North Division, Wednesday at 6:40 p.m.

Four from St. Augustine’s (12-15) scored in double-figures, led by guard Anthony Gaskins, who had 14 points despite going 3 for 13 from the floor. Center Marquis Hines, playing in his first tournament game after sitting out last season, came off the bench to score 11 points and pull down 10 rebounds.

“It was hard not playing last year,” he said. “It feels real good to help my brothers try to get a championship with all the adversity we had the whole season with (outsiders) doubting us and being a small team.”

Elizabeth City State (9-21) scored the first seven points, but St. Augustine’s got into gear for a 29-25 halftime advantage. Both offenses struggled in the second halfbut the Falcons defense helped it build a 10-point advantage by holding the Vikings to 22.7 percent shooting for the half.

“We haven’t played in this type of arena before, so it’s a different depth perception, but give credit to Elizabeth City,” Johnson said. “We were fortunate to come away with the victory, but we hang our hat on defense.”

Darrell Ward and John Tatum both scored 11 points to pace the Vikings. Ward added 11 rebounds.

Shaw 77, Virginia Union 70: Larry Richardson had a game high 29 points and the Bears (12-15) topped the Panthers (9-18) to advance to face J.C. Smith in Wednesday’s second round. Shaw led 28-21 at the break, but each team’s offense exploded for 49 points in the second half. Ray Anderson led Virginia Union with 22 points, but had six turnovers.

Women’s Roundup

Livingstone 91, Bowie State 73: The Blue Bears (7-19), who were dropped from the South’s top seed to third after reporting an ineligible player, had no trouble dispatching Bowie State (9-17). Four Livingstone players broke double-digits in scoring, led by Ty-Nita Baker’s 18 and Sheldeen Joseph with 14.

Winston-Salem State 73, Chowan 58: The Rams hit 56 percent of their shots in the second half to pull away from Chowan after a 27-all tie at the break. Kesheria McNeil scored 21 points on 6-of-8 shooting to pace the Rams (11-16) while Chowan’s (13-14) Alisha Mobley scored 30 on 9-of-13 shooting from the floor.

Elizabeth City State 61, Fayetteville State 52: The Vikings grabbed a 32-24 halftime lead and kept the Broncos at bay to improve to 13-13. Elizabeth City State’s Jadda Jefferies led all scorers with 20 points while Breona Jones added 14. Deja Middleton paced Fayetteville State (8-18) with 18 points.

Virginia Union 74, St. Augustine’s 71: Taylor White nailed a pair of free throws with 8 seconds left and St. Augustine’s missed a three-pointer that could’ve forced overtime. Ashle Freeman and Lady Walker led Virginia Union (9-17) with 25 and 22 points, respectively. Regime McCombs had 20 for St. Augustine’s (12-14).

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