Elizabeth City State Vikings took advantage of a Bowie State Bulldogs poor shooting night at the free-throw line to stun the Northern Division top seed, 66-63 in overtime to advance to the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Tournament Championship game.
Bowie State finished the night by shooting 30 percent (8-of-27) from the foul line.
“It is tough right now to lose a hard-fought game,” Bowie State head coach Darrell Brooks said. “It was like a heavyweight fight. I am proud of my basketball team and we gave our best in a losing effort. We just didn’t do a good job making free throws tonight and that was the difference in the game.”
Junior guard Angelo Sharpless led the Vikings (15-13 overall record) with a double-double of 27 points and 15 rebounds. Junior guard Quentin Spady and senior guard Marquie Cook had 12 and 10 points, respectively, as Elizabeth City State, which had 18 second-chance points, shot 31 percent (21-of-67) from the floor and 71 percent (17-of-24) from the free-throw line.
Senior guard Darren Clark led the Bulldogs with 20 points and dished out seven assists. Senior forward/center Travis Hyman recorded a double-double with 14 points and a season-high 17 boards.
Both teams exchanged the lead several times during regulation before the game eventually went into overtime. In overtime, the Vikings took a 62-60 lead after a free throw by Cook with 1:25 remaining, but Clark sank a 3-pointer from the right wing to give Bowie State a 63-62 lead with 1:09 to play. A Sharpless bucket with 47 seconds left put Elizabeth City State back on top, 64-63.
After an offensive foul by the Bulldogs with 29.1 seconds remaining, Bowie State was forced to foul. Cooke sank both shots at the foul line with 20.2 seconds left to give Elizabeth City State a 66-63 advantage.
On the next Bulldogs possession, sophomore guard Julian Williams went to the free-throw line with 3.1 seconds left, but missed both shots to send Elizabeth City State into the championship game.
“We set three goals at the beginning of the season,” Brooks said. “Our first goal was to win the Northern Division and we did that. Our second was to win the CIAA Tournament and we fell just short of that. Our third is to win a national title and we could still reach that goal.”
Meanwhile, Elizabeth City State will face Winston-Salem State for the CIAA Tournament Championship late Saturday night (March. 3) in Charlotte, N.C.