CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Guard-forward Javon Moore scored 30 points and guard Kevin Williams added 24 points as Virginia State took charge in the second half to dethrone Livingstone 89-79 for the CIAA Tournament Men's Basketball Championship at Time Warner Cable Arena on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016.
The Trojans used a 12-0 opening run in the second half to win their first title since claiming back-to-back championships in 1989 and 1988. They outscored the two-time defending champions 54-43 in the second half after trailing 36-35 at halftime.
"I'm just so proud of my guys," said Trojans' Head Coach Lonnie Blow, Jr., who became the first coach in history to lead two different teams to CIAA men's basketball titles. "We set a goal earlier in the season to be conference champions. In August, we were weightlifting and getting up early, conditioning and doing things like that with this day in mind."
The Trojans (22-5 overall), who earned the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament, were the best team in the CIAA during the regular season. They entered the CIAA Tournament ranked seventh in the Atlantic Region, and will await their national tournament seeding on the NCAA selection show, which will air March 6 on NCAA.com at 10 p.m.
The Trojans also proved they were the best team in the tournament, winning three games in three nights by an average of 11.7 points. They put the Blue Bears in a hole early in the second half, and the Blue Bears, playing their fourth game in four nights, never led again.
"For the most part [this season], we were consistent with our effort and consistent with our execution," Blow said. "We are one unit, and that's the way we play."
The Trojans appeared to be in control of the first half after taking a 30-24 lead, but a late run put the Blue Bears ahead 36-35 at halftime. Williams says the talk in the Trojans' locker room at halftime centered around one topic.
"Defense, Defense, Defense!" said Williams, the tournament MVP. "We didn't say nothing about offense."
Williams scored 19 points and Javon Moore scored 16 points in the second half as the Trojans knocked the Blue Bears off balance with a flurry of points. The Trojans led 47-36 at the 15:04 mark, and padded their lead to 64-49 with 8:45 remaining on Javon Moore's free throw off his steal.
Led by guard Daryl Traynham, the Blue Bears had some fight left. Traynham scored 10 points during a 12-2 run to get his squad within five points. His three-pointer pulled the Blue Bears within 66-61 with 5:57 left.
The Trojans responded with their own run to put the game out of reach. Williams made two free throws for an 84-71 lead with 58 seconds remaining, capping an 18-10 run. The Trojans connected on 10 of 13 free throws during that span.
The trio of Waymond Wright, Elijah Moore and Cyonte Melvin each scored eight points for the Trojans. Tyler Peterson chipped in seven points.
Traynham and forward Ty Newman both came off the bench to score 29 points and 21 points, respectively, for the Blue Bears, the No. 4 Southern Division seed whose season ended at 15-16 overall. Juwan Cole added 11 points.
The Blue Bears were playing their fourth game in four nights, but Newman says that wasn't the reason they fell to the Trojans.
"They were hungry," Newman said. "They looked like the best team in the conference in the second half."
The Trojans' trio of Williams, Javon Moore and forward Elijah Moore in addition to the Blue Bears' threesome of Traynham, Newman and guard Eric Debose were named to the All-CIAA Tournament team after the contest. The other All-Tourney players were guard Ray Anderson of Virginia Union, guard Ahmaad Wilson of Bowie State, guard Anthony Gaskins of Saint Augustine's and guard Joshua Dawson of Fayetteville State. Johnson C. Smith won the CIAA Men's Team Sportsmanship Award.
CIAA Tournament MVP
Kevin Williams, Virginia State
CIAA All-Tournament Team
Ray Anderson, Virginia Union
Ahmaad Wilson, Bowie State
Daryl Traynham, Livingstone
Kevin Williams, Virginia State
Ty Newman, Livingstone
Elijah Moore, Virginia State
Eric Dubose, Livingstone
Anthony Gaskins, Saint Augustine's
Javon Moore, Virginia State
Joshua Dawson, Fayetteville State
CIAA Men's Team Sportsmanship Award
Johnson C. Smith