Elizabeth City State (No. 5) relied on its stingy defense to top No. 6 seed Shaw 55-40 for its first-ever CIAA women’s basketball title at CFG Bank Arena on Saturday.
With the victory, the Vikings (20-10 overall) earned the league’s automatic berth to the NCAA Division II Tournament in the Atlantic Region. Shaw, which was seeking its 12th CIAA title, ended its season at 18-14 overall.
This was the Vikings second straight trip to the finals after falling to Lincoln (Pa.) last season, and ECSU made the most of it – thanks to its defense.
The Vikings limited Shaw to 25 percent shooting (12-of-48) for the contest. The Bears could not find the mark from three-point range (0 of 9) and no players scored in double figures. Brittiney Seymour was the Bears’ top scorer with nine points.
Dy’Jhanik Armfield led a balanced Elizabeth City State scoring attack with 13 points. Maryam Hashim added 10 points as five players scored seven or more points for the Vikings, who shot 36.4 percent.
Both teams entered the title game with stellar defensive reputations. The Vikings and Bears were No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the conference in fewest points allowed per game. Both teams lived up to their rankings in the first period. Neither team mustered much offense as the Vikings led 10-6 entering the second half.
But the Vikings, which lost twice to Shaw during the regular season, found the range in the second period which set the tone for the rest of the contest. The Vikings shot 53.3 percent in the period, including 5 of 11 three-pointers.
Their perimeter shooting boosted ECSU to a 32-16 halftime lead. Akyia King and Hashim combined for four treys for ECSU, which outscored Shaw 22-10 in the period. The Bears shot well in the second period too, making 50 percent of their shots, but seven turnovers put Shaw in a deep hole at halftime.
Armfield scored nine first-half points followed by King and Hashim with eight points apiece for the Vikings, who shot 43.3 percent through the first two periods. The trio of Seymour, Tanayja London and Rita James each had four points for the Lady Bears, who shot 33.3 percent and committed a whopping 14 turnovers in the opening half.
The Vikings maintained their double-digit lead heading into the fourth period. The Lady Bears, down 45-25, made a late run but got no closer than 11 points.
ECSU controlled the boards as they outrebounded the Lady Bears 40-25, including 13-7 on the offensive glass. Sireann Pitts had a game-high eight boards to go with eight points while Jada Nowlin had seven rebounds.
Thirteen Vikings hit the floor with eight playing 12 or more minutes. Eleven Lady Bears played with five logging 28 or more minutes. The depth showed as the Vikings held an edge (19-8) in fast break points (19-8) and bench points (22-6).
The Vikings trio of NyAsia Blango, Armfield and King were selected to the CIAA All-Tournament team with Blango named the Food Lion Tournament MVP. Below is the CIAA Women’s Basketball All-Tournament list.
Ny Langley (Virginia Union)
Raija Todd (Virginia State)
Kania Pollock (Lincoln, Pa.)
Shaniya Jones (Johnson C. Smith)
Tori Reid (Johnson C. Smith)
NyAsia Blango (Elizabeth City State)
Dy’Jhanik Armfield (Elizabeth City State)
Brittiney Seymour (Shaw)
Tanayja London (Shaw)
Akyia King (Elizabeth City State)
Food Lion Tournament MVP: NyAsia Blango (Elizabeth City State)
Team Sportsmanship Award: Johnson C. Smith University