The No. 6 seed Lincoln (PA) Lions (17-13 overall) took down the No. 2 seed Fayetteville State (FSU) Broncos (17-13) to advance to the 2023 CIAA Men’s Basketball Championship game with a 53-49 victory Friday night during the semifinals at CFG Bank Arena.
Neither team led by more than six points in the final frame and after two second half lead changes, the Lions gathered control in what appeared to be for good when Peter Sorber sunk a pair of free throws with 1:40 left for a 50-47 advantage. However, Fayetteville State’s Khalil Ridges responded with a pair of freebies to make it interesting (51-49) as seven seconds reflected on the scoreboard.
Reggie Hudson made one of two free throws to make it a three-point game for Lincoln (PA) and the Broncos’ Darryl Myers corralled the rebound to give Fayetteville State a chance to tie the game. However, Kaleb Coleman’s three-point attempt was no good, clinching the Lions berth to the championship game.
Three players scored in double figures for Lincoln (PA) led by Ethan Garita and Reggie Hudson, who both charted 11 points each, while Korey Williams chipped in 10 points and four rebounds. Garita was named Food Lion Game MVP. As a team, the Lions had a huge shooting performance in the second half, connecting 10-of-19 shots compared to the first halves 32-percent (8-25).
Lincoln’s opponent in the championship, Winston-State University, won a nail biter against Virginia Union to advance to the final round. Samage Teel hit a clutch pull-up jumper with 11 seconds remaining to give Winston-Salem State the 45-44 win over the top seed and Northern Division champion Virginia Union in the 2023 CIAA Men’s Semifinals at CFG Bank Arena Friday.
The win completed a comeback for the Rams (20-8 overall), who beat Claflin in the quarterfinals. Virginia Union led 21-16 at halftime and was ahead by nine early in the second half. The Rams kept chipping away until they moved ahead 43-41 on Alston’s two free throws. The Panthers (23-7 overall) regained the lead 44-43 on Osborne’s turnaround jumper and Raemaad Wright’s free throw, setting up Teel’s game-winning basket in the final moments.
Teel, the Food Lion Game MVP, recorded team-high totals of 13 points and seven points. Teel and the Rams showed a lot of grit on the court and as a result, Winston-Salem State has clinched its spot in the conference title game.
Jaylen Alston added nine points and Nathan Springs came off the bench to contribute eight points and six rebounds for the Rams, who won despite committing 22 turnovers which led to 17 VUU points. The Rams countered with their reserve unit, outscoring the Panthers 29-6 in bench points, led by Teel and Springs.
The storied Rams program will be gunning for its 13th conference tournament title, and first since 2020. This will be Lincoln’s first championship appearance since joining the CIAA in 2008.