After a close first half, No. 4 seed Shaw found its transition game in the second half– even with three starters on the bench with foul trouble—to easily defeat No. 5 seed Winston-Salem State (WSSU), 75-47, in an NCAA Division II Basketball Tournament opening round game on March 12 played at West Liberty University in Wheeling, W.Va.
With the win, Shaw (23-8) advances to take on No. 1 seed West Liberty (30-0) on March 13 at 7:30 p.m. WSSU finishes their season at 19-8.
“Both teams came out slowly,” said Shaw coach Cleo Hill, Jr. “Both teams were sluggish. Both teams had been off a while since the CIAA and you can practice all you want, but you can’t simulate actual game situations.”
Both teams were slow to find their offense, and WSSU struggled offensively the entire game. But by the opening minutes of the second half, it became clear that if Shaw wanted to find offense, they would have to find it from players other than their “usual suspects.”
Senior forward Dwight Bell and Shaw’s leading scorer Raheem Smith, a senior, were on the bench with four fouls apiece by the mid-point of the second half.
“The others just stepped in and did what was necessary,” said Hill of his bench. “We played defense really well in the second half, and that let us get in transition to build the lead.”
In all, Shaw’s bench accounted for 21 points, and the defense held WSSU to only 33.3 percent shooting and forced 21 turnovers, while limiting them to only two assists. In comparison, Shaw hit 47.4 percent of its shots and gave the ball up only 12 times.
Greg Thomas led Shaw with 15 points, while David Jones had 12. Three other Shaw players, junior guard Devon Mclendon, and senior forwards Dwight Bell and Darryl Johnson, had nine apiece. Junior point guard Tony Smith led Shaw with nine rebounds and eight assists.
Senior guard Andrew Jackson led Winston-Salem with 14 points and senior forward Shelton Carter had 12 points in the loss.