CHARLOTTE, NC. – The Shaw University women's basketball suffered a hard fought 70-66 loss to Virginia Union University in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Women's Basketball Championship game on Saturday afternoon in Time Warner Cable Arena. The setback is the first time the Lady Bears have loss in a CIAA Championship game.
Shaw (24-7) had a chance to seal the deal but VUU's Kiana Johnson and Lady Walker combined for 10 points in the final 2:43 to clinch the win.
Senior Eboni Ross (Columbia, SC) had an outstanding performance, registering a double-double with 29 points and 17 rebounds, including six offensive and 11 defensive in the loss. She also was 13-of-15 from the foul line and 8-of-12 from the field. Senior Kaula Jacks (Chesapeake Beach, MD) netted 14 points and eight rebounds, while Aaliyah Mercer (Bronx, NY) finished with 10 points, five rebounds and two assists for Shaw.
The Lady Panthers' Johnson turned in a 32-point performance, the Lady Bears held her to a season-low four assists in the contest. Walker notched 23 points and 20 rebounds, including 11 offensive and nine defensive, while Taylor White added 12 points and 13 rebounds.
As a team, Virginia Union shot 34.6% (27-78) from the field and 28.1% (9-32) from three point range. Shaw returned a 32.4% (22-68) shooting percentage but managed only a 15.0% (2-20) outing from long range.
The VUU (25-2) opened up the contest with a 10-3 run but the Lady Bears quickly erased the seven-point deficit with a 7-0 run of their own when Jacks scored on consecutive possessions to draw even at 10-10 at the 3:03 mark.
Over the final stages of the first quarter, Shaw was able to take the 11-10 lead after a Tabatha Anderson (Manhattan Beach, CA) free throw, but Johnson regained the lead for the Panthers at 13-11 when she cashed in from long range.
In the second quarter, the teams battled through three lead changes as neither team could pull away. The Lady Panthers gained a three point advantage at the 8:01 mark when Johnson nailed a three pointer, but Fantasha Tyson (Raleigh, NC) equaled that shot with one of her own with 6:18 left to again tie the score at 21-21. VUU would then take the lead on a White free throw and would make it a three point game at 26-23 when Johnson connected for another basket with 3:04 to play.
Jacks would pull the Bears to within one (28-27) after a jumper at 2:08. After forcing a VUU turnover, Ross gave Shaw the 29-28 lead after a layup with 25 seconds left and was fouled on the play by Walker. Ross would hit the free throw to extend Shaw's lead to 30-28, a mark that they would take into the halftime break, as VUU could not get another shot off in the half.
As the third quarter got underway, Ross extended Shaw's lead to 31-28 on a free throw; the Panthers' Johnson would connect from long range to tie it once again, this time at 31-31.
With a back and forth battle between the two teams, the contest became tied again at 41-41 with 4:52 showing on the clock, the Lady Bears went on a 6-0 run over the next 1:40 to take a 47-41 lead after Mercer converted a free throw. VUU again made a big play, this time from Walker, as she cut the Lady Bears lead to 47-44, after knocking down a layup while getting fouled, and she added the free throw for the three-point play.
Prior to a Shaw free throw on the other end, Johnson launched a deep three pointer that again trimmed the Lady Bears lead to 47-48 with 2:34 to play. Shaw again pushed the ball inside, earning a foul and Ross canned both free throws to go up 50-47.
Following the free throws, VUU connected from deep again, this time from Zana Godoy, tying the game again, at 50-50. Shaw would then get baskets from Jacks and Ross to close the quarter, with the Bears holding the 54-52 advantage.
Shaw kept the Lady Panthers at bay through much of the final stanza as the Lady Bears had a four-point lead with 3:30 left to play before VUU converted on a four-point play to cut the lead 64-63, followed by a tip-in from Walker to give the Lady Panthers the one-point lead (65-64). The next possession down Shaw turned the ball over and Johnson was able to knock down a 3-pointer with 27 seconds remaining.
With seven seconds remaining in the contest, Ross scored a layup to trim the lead to 68-66 with 7.0 seconds remaining. Both teams would call a timeout immediately after as two Shaw fouls put VUU in the bonus, Walker hit both shots to make it 70-66, still with 7.0 seconds to play.
Following a full timeout by Shaw, the Lady Bears three point attempt was short and VUU was able secure the rebound for the win.
Shaw's Jacks, Ross, and Anderson received All-tournament plaudits.
The Lady Bears will now await a bid to the 2016 NCAA Division II Tournament. The Official brackets will be unveiled on March 6 at 10:00 p.m. during the selection show at NCAA.com
For the most up-to-date information on Shaw basketball and its 11 varsity sport teams, please visit shawbears.com.