Bears Defense Smothers WSSU in NCAA Tourney Opener
(West Liberty, WV) - After a closely played first half, No. 4 seed Shaw found its transition game in the second - even with three starters on the bench with foul trouble - and easily defeated No. 5 seed Winston-Salem State in an NCAA opening round game played at the Academic, Sports and Recreation Complex on the campus of West Liberty University.
With the win, Shaw (23-8) now advances to take on No. 1 seed and 30-0 West Liberty at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday. WSSU finishes their season at 19-8.
"Both teams came out slowly," said Shaw Head 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 offense - and WSSU struggled offensively the entire game. Midway through the first half, Shaw held a six-point 15-9 lead. By the end of the first half, the two teams had combined for only 52 points -- only five more than Shaw would score alone in the second.
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." Dwight Bell and Shaw's leading scorer Raheem Smith 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."
With 15:29 left in the game, Stephon Platt hit a jumper for the Rams to cut the Shaw lead to five, 33-28. The Bears went on an 11-2 run to stretch the lead to 14 when Dwight Bell hit a three-pointer to put the score at 44-30.
Midway through the second, with the starters for Shaw on the bench in foul trouble, Andrew Jackson hit a jumper for WSSU to cut the Shaw lead to eight. Over the next seven minutes, the Bears went on a 27-7 run to build a 28-point lead.
In all, the Bears' bench accounted for 21 points, and the Shaw defense held WSSU to only 33.3 percent shooting and forced 21 turnovers, while limiting the Rams 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 the Bears with 15 points, while David Jones had 12. Three other Bears - Devon Mclendon, Dwight Bell and Darryl Johnson - had nine apiece. Tony Smith led the Bears with nine rebounds and eight assists.
Jackson led the Rams with 14 points and Shelton Carter had 12. McIntoche Alcius and Paul Davis had five rebounds apiece to lead WSSU.
Photos: Greg Thomas and David Jones both go up for layups in Shaw's NCAA opening round game against WSSU.