The first BR-16 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship game appearance for BR-180 Lincoln (Pa.) turned out to be a forgettable one as BR-155 Virginia State captured their first CIAA title since 2002 with a dominating 73-49 win over the Lady Lions inside the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C. on Saturday afternoon. With the win, the Trojans captured the first automatic qualifier bid to the 2015 NCAA D2 Women’s Basketball Tournament.
The Trojans wasted little time in asserting their dominance, jumping out to a 6-1 lead in the game’s opening minutes. After Lincoln’s Courtney Lewis tipped in a missed three-pointer to cut the lead to 15-11 with 10:29 left, Virginia State’s offense took off, outscoring the Lady Lions 24-10 in the rest of the half to take a 39-21 halftime lead.
“Our main focus was to continue to do what we do,” Virginia State head coach James Hill, Jr. said. “If we could continue to play defense and box out, we knew we’d be successful.”
Virginia State shot 13-for-24 (54.2 percent) from the field in the first half, including 5-of-10 from three-point range, while holding Lincoln to 9-of-33 (27.3 percent) shooting. The Lady Lions committed nine turnovers, leading to eight VSU points.
The Trojans picked up where they left off in the second half, scoring the first 12 points of the frame to take a 51-21 lead four minutes in.
Jessica Lyons led the Trojans with 16 points, while DeAnna Waters added 15, Cana Marriott 14 and Da’Shae Jones 11.
“This year our team is more balanced, anyone can score on any night,” Hill said. “As long as we get the win that’s what matters.”
The Virginia State defense held Lincoln’s Zephrah Pam scoreless; Amani Clark, the hero of Lincoln’s semifinal win over Livingstone on Friday, led the Lady Lions with 11 points.
“Whatever could have went wrong tonight did,” said Lincoln head coach Jessica Kern. “I did enjoy seeing that the fight never stopped from these ladies. I’m proud of them and I know we wanted it to end differently but they never gave up.”
While Virginia State makes a return appearance to the NCAA playoffs, Lincoln’s season may not be completely over just yet. There’s an outside chance that the Lady Lions could crack the Atlantic Region top ten. Barring that, however, there’s a strong possibility Lincoln could qualify for the ECAC postseason tournament; that selection will take place Monday, March 9.