Victory wasn’t assured until a desperation three-pointer by Livingstone misfired, setting off a celebration inside Time Warner Cable Arena. Smith was named Tournament MVP, and he joined the Bears’ Tony Smith and Devon Mclendon on the All-Tournament team. They led the Bears (22-8 overall), the No. 2 Southern Division seed, to victory over a game Livingstone squad making its first CIAA finals appearance.
“I can’t say enough about this team,” Shaw Head Coach Cleo Hill, Jr. said. “I’m proud of them and we fought throughout this tournament.”
Mclendon added 19 points and 14 rebounds and Tony Smith scored 11 points for the Bears, who shot 52 percent from the floor including 54 percent in the second half. Livingstone, who put Darius Cox and Greg Henry on the All-Tournament team, shot 46 percent for the game including 50 percent in the second half, to make the game close.
The win gave Shaw a sweep of the men’s and women’s tournaments, which is a first for the private Raleigh, N.C., school. Hill, Jr., claimed his first crown in only his third season as head coach after being an assistant coach on the 2001-02 team which won the CIAA Tournament with former NBA player Ronald “Flip” Murray, who was the NCAA Division II player of the year for the Bears at the time.
Livingstone (17-12 overall) put on a good showing in its first CIAA final. The No. 3 Southern Division seed, the Blue Bears came within a bucket of winning, but Shaw made the big baskets when it counted.
With Shaw holding a slim 55-52 lead, Raheem Smith drained a clutch three-pointer and David Jones made a layup to push the score to 60-52 with 3:38 to go. Livingstone managed to get within 70-69 with three seconds left on a three-pointer by Cox before Smith nailed the game-winning free throws.
t is the fifth time the Lady Bears (21-11) have defeated Johnson C. Smith (23-4) in the CIAA Championship and the fourth time in the last nine years the Lady Golden Bulls, the 2009 CIAA champion, have finished as the tournament’s runner-up.
“Although in defeat, we are extremely proud of our women’s basketball team and what they’ve accomplished thus far,” said Johnson C. Smith coach Vanessa Taylor, the CIAA Women’s Coach of the Year. “We hope that it is enough for the NCAA to say to us that we can live to play another day.”
The Lady Bears were down 43-37 with 10:05 remaining in the game after Johnson C. Smith’s Terran Quattlebaum and Terrica Jones combined for 13 points in an 18-5 run. But Aslea Williams, who finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds, scored seven straight points in a span of 1:40 to spark Shaw’s decisive run of the game, a 12-0 spurt that handed the Lady Bears a 51-45 edge they would never relinquish.
“She struggled early, and was frustrated early and mentally, was out of the game,” Curtis said of Williams. “But she can change a game, and she’s probably the best power forward in the CIAA. She wanted the ball and she wanted to score.”
Johnson C. Smith, the Southern Division champion, closed within three points twice in the final 15 seconds, but Shaw made five of six foul shots – converting two one-and-ones — in the closing seconds to preserve the victory.
Click to see the MENS whole CIAA Bracket
Click to see the WOMENS whole CIAA Bracket