FAYETTEVILLE, NC – After being predicted to finish third in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Division Preseason, the Shaw University men's basketball team (13-12, 9-6 CIAA, 7-2 South) claimed the Southern Division title for the first time in five years with a 73-63 victory over Fayetteville State University inside Felton J. Capel Arena Wednesday night. The last time the Bears won the division was during the 2011-12 season under former head coach Cleo Hill, Jr.
In a much a better effort at the free-throw line compared to last weekend's outing, the Bears shot a whopping 81.8 percent (27-of-33) at the charity stripe while connecting 19-of-45 shots (42.2 percent) from the field and 38.1 percent (8-of-21) from the three-point line.
Senior Benji Bell (Gainesville, FL) led all scorers in the contest with 23 points, including 10-of-10 from the foul line while senior Larry Richardson, II (Garner, NC) ended up with 20 points (6-of-10 from the floor) and four rebounds.
After knocking down the game's first three-pointers, Shaw held a 7-4 lead in the opening minutes but FSU would then go on to score five-straight to take its first lead of the game at the 15:25 mark.
The contest tied two times over a seven-minute span before the Broncos caught momentum on back-to-back three-pointers from Xavier Robinson with 5:51 left in the first half. From there, FSU would embark on a 14-2 run to lead 32-26 before the Bears trimmed at the deficit thanks to Bell's five-straight points, including a three-pointer that would knot the game up at 32-32 on a three-pointer with 2:11 left. However, the Broncos went into the locker room at halftime with a 35-32 lead after Jyonte Raynor banked a three-pointer at the buzzer.
The second half featured four ties and three lead changes before Bell converted on a three-point play to give Shaw a 59-56 lead with 5:52 remaining. Two possessions later, junior Khaliq Williams (Jacksonville, FL) drained a three-pointer to extend its lead 62-56 as the Bears would go on to produce a 12-3 spurt to lead by 10 with 1:09 remaining.
The Broncos got within nine points but that would be the closest they would get for the rest of the way as Shaw would not relinquish the lead.
FSU (10-13, 6-8 CIAA, 4-5 South) was led by Carl McCray who finished with 15 points. The Broncos concluded the game with a shooting percentage of 42.9 percent (21-of-49) from the floor, including 40 percent (10-of-25) from long distance and 46.2 percent (6-of-13) from the charity stripe.
Shaw will return home to host Johnson C. Smith University for its regular season and home finale on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 4 p.m. in C.C. Spaulding Gymnasium for Senior Day.
For the most up-to-date information on Shaw University men's basketball and its 11 varsity sport teams, please visit www.shawbears.com.