You could audibly hear Bowie State University players on the bench chanting “everyone scores” late in the second half during a season finale match against Elizabeth City State University on Feb. 24.
Not only did the Bulldogs fulfill that promise, but they ran away with a 14-point victory (85-71) against the Vikings earning the Bulldogs a No. 2 seed in the CIAA Tournament quarterfinal match on March 1 at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 7-2 run to start of the contest forcing Elizabeth City State to take a timeout in the opening minutes of the first half.
Despite allowing the Vikings to tie the game up only once, the Bulldogs never let up and cruised to victory by capitalizing off of turnovers that turned into 22 points and imposed their will in the paint with 50 points scored.
The Bulldogs went into halftime with a sizable lead (51-29) behind a solid performance from sophomore guard David Belle who led Bowie State with 11 points in only eight minutes of play off the bench.
“The first half is our best half of basketball on both sides of the ball all year,” Bowie State University Head Coach Darrell Brooks said. “We really shot and shared the ball well, and I’m really pleased with that.”
Belle continued to be aggressive in the second half and finished the game as Bowie State’s leading scorer (16 points) helping the Bulldogs achieve a 29-point lead inside the 15-minute mark and was a part of a reserve unit that accounted for 49 points in total.
Senior guard Ahmaad Wilson was one of four Bulldogs to score in double-figures, and he accounted for three steals on the defensive end. Wilson’s leadership on the floor was evident as he put his teammates in position to score while knowing what it takes to repeat as CIAA Conference Champions.
“We wanted the seniors to go out right, and that was probably the best that we played all year,” Wilson said. “Those guys make it easy because they listen to everything I say and they want to learn.
Those (underclassmen) guys are just as hungry as us and the fact that it’s a younger team, they have a chip on their shoulders because they don’t have a ring and they want what we got so it’s a good unit, and I’m excited about the upcoming tournament.”
Sophomore forward Yohance Fleming scored 12 points and pulled down four rebounds while senior guard Omari George accounted for 11 points and three rebounds in a domineering effort.
Despite former Gwynn Park High School phenom Justin Faison scoring 24 points for the Vikings, it wasn’t enough to keep Bowie from earning its 13th win of the season with the hopes of winning back-to-back CIAA Championships.
The Bulldogs will either face Livingstone University or potentially do battle against Elizabeth City State again in a rematch in the quarterfinals. Brooks admitted that every team is different, but it’s always exciting to play for a championship.
“Every year and team is different,” Brooks said. “This team has much less experience than last year’s team, and I think that is the biggest difference.
For us, it was all about our seniors. “We didn’t look at the standings, and we just wanted to win to send our seniors out the right way. I’m really proud of those guys, and now we will start looking forward to the tournament.”