Livingstone’s Nasir Austin, top, fouls Virginia State’s Javon Moore in the second half of a CIAA college championship basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. (John D. Simmons/The Charlotte Observer via AP)
The Virginia State (VSU) Trojans claimed their first conference championship in 27 years after cruising to a 89-79 win over the reigning champion Livingstone Blue Bears in the Central Interscholastic Athletic Association (CIAA) Tournament championship game on Feb. 27 in Charlotte, N.C.
It was the first time the Trojans won the CIAA men’s basketball championship since winning the title in consecutive years in 1988-’89.
Livingstone was stopped short of its goal of winning its third straight CIAA title; the Blue Bears had won the tournament championship in 2014 and 2015.
Both teams battled back-and-forth in the first half before Livingstone took a 36-35 lead into halftime. But the Trojans took over in the second half, using a 12-0 run to build a sizable lead that Livingstone wouldn’t be able to overcome.
“I’m just so proud of my guys,” said Trojans’ head coach Lonnie Blow Jr., according to CIAA Media Relations. “We set a goal earlier in the season to be conference champions. In August, we were weightlifting and getting up early, conditioning and doing things like that with this day in mind.”
Virginia State’s Javon Moore, center, and Melvin Gregory, right, react to a referee’s call after a second-half scramble in a CIAA college championship basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. (John D. Simmons/The Charlotte Observer via AP)
Coach Blow made history, becoming the first head coach to lead two different schools to CIAA Tournament championships—he led St. Augustine to a title in 2010. Blow also won a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) title as an assistant coach for Hampton University in 2006.
Trojans forward Kevin Williams earned CIAA Tournament MVP honors; he scored 24 points in the championship game. Senior guard Javon Moore led VSU and all scorers with a game-high 30 points.
Darryl Trayman led Livingstone with 29 points in the game.
Next: Virginia State received an automatic seed into the NCAA Division-II men’s basketball tournament, scheduled to start late in March.