Week 10 Women's Basketball
For the week ending January 25, 2014
of the Week
Jasmin Dancy, Virginia Union
Women's Basketball Recaps - January 27, 2014
With bigger goals in mind, the Virginia State women’s basketball team has rarely paused to appreciate the success it is enjoying from the fruits of its labor. Those celebrations are for the students, administration and alumni of Virginia State.
The Lady Trojans are excited to have started the season with a 15-1 record, already surpassing their win total from last year. They are thrilled to lead the nation in scoring defense and enjoy the highest national ranking in program history, but there is too much basketball remaining to be played to settle for being ranked 15th in the latest USA Today/WBCA Division II coaches’ poll. The Lady Trojans still has some unfinished business to handle.
“Our goal is to make it to the NCAA tournament,” Virginia State head coach James Hill, Jr. said. “We focus on that everyday, taking one game at a time and cleaning up little things. They’re happy with their ranking, but not satisfied with being 15th. They want to break the top 10. The good thing for us is we’re not a one-person team and we’re balanced. This is a special and humble group of ladies with a lot of character.”
Virginia State displayed plenty of character by holding off Elizabeth City State, 69-61, in overtime Saturday afternoon. Junior Tiffanie Adair led the Trojans with 22 points and 11 rebounds while senior Lamesha Deal scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, respectively. Adair's 22 points marked a career high for the South Carolina native who fouled out late in overtime. Adair currently leads the CIAA in field goal percentage, shooting at 75 percent. Jessica Lyons also joined Adair and Deal in double figures, scoring 16 points while dishing out a season-high nine assists.
The Lady Trojans are a very close knit team. The closeness has been one of their ingredients in their successful recipe this season. They do everything together like eat, study, community service projects, shop, and visit the Wawa down the street from its campus. The Lady Trojans were motivated by being picked third in the CIAA Northern Division preseason poll.
“We love being around each other 24-7,” Deal said. “It feels great to receive all the national attention, but we know there’s more to accomplish. “Our coaches’ pushes us and we push each other everyday in practice and during game. Everybody is on the same page.”
Deal had to be cajoled into playing basketball by her mother when she was in fifth grade. She used to run track and when she started playing hoops, she was a little confused by the physicality. Eventually she got used to it and once she started seeing increased playing time in eighth grade, Deal started dominating, pushing back and developing into a fine basketball player. She arrived to Virginia State from North Carolina A&T.
“I didn’t get in the game that much when I first started playing,” Deal said. “By the time I got into ninth grade, I started playing hard and I wasn’t scared anymore. I was confused at first and didn’t know what to do because track wasn’t a contact sport. Here in basketball, they were hitting me and I was getting pushed, I didn’t know what to do at first.”
Majoring in animal science and agriculture, Deal also volunteers at the SPCA in her hometown of Norfolk (Va.). She is a multi-dimensional threat for the Lady Vikings as she can post-up, face-up, and drive to the basket. This season, she has four double-doubles including two straight to go along with her 13.6 point scoring average. She has scored in double figures in 15 games this year.
“You don’t find too many players like her,” Hill said. “She means a lot and is the epitome of our program. She displays so much character and leadership on and off the court. She is a joy to coach.”
Adair is second on the team in scoring with an 11.6 point per game average and De’Shea Jones also contributes 11.4 points per contest. Lyons leads VSU with 51 assists. The Lady Trojans have won their two Northern Division games by eight points each. Virginia State will host Bowie State Wednesday and then visit its orange-and-blue counterparts at The Lincoln University Saturday.
Hill, the all-time winningest coach in VSU women’s basketball history with 128 victories and two-time CIAA Coach of the Year honors, has kept his team grounded throughout the season. With five more wins, VSU would have its third 20-win season under Hill.
“We know as a team that everybody is coming at us and we have to be on top of our game,” Hill said. “I tell my team all the time, this is what you live for in life is to put yourself in a position to be challenged and experience success. I also want to thank my athletic director for her support and believing in the women’s program here at Virginia State.”
FOSTER’S BLOCK PARTY: Livingstone’s Wende Foster had a block party during the middle of this frigid winter without the loud music and finger-licking food last week. Currently second in the nation in blocked shots, the 6-5 junior from Detroit provided the entertainment by finishing two blocks shy of a triple-double in a 60-49 road victory over Johnson C. Smith (12 points, 11 rebounds, and eight blocked shots). Against Fayetteville State in a 66-49 loss, Foster blocked 10 shots. For the week, Foster averaged nine blocks per game. She has 77 blocked shots for the 10-9 Lady Blue Bears.
WONDERFUL WILLIAMS: In its only game last week, Chowan clipped Bowie State, 58-51. Courtni Williams led three Chowan players in double figures with a career-high 14 points. In her last three games, the 5-6 freshman from Chesapeake (Va.) has averaged 10 points for the 9-9 Hawks. She has scored in double figures seven times this season. Other highlights in the win over Bowie State included Alisha Mobley and Rachel Gostomski adding 11 and 10 points respectively while Kaela Nelson hauled in 13 rebounds. The Hawks made 18 free throws, scored 12 points off of Bowie State turnovers and got 26 points from their bench.
DAVIS DOMINATES: Chelsey Davis’ 18-point, 11-rebound effort was too much for The Lincoln University to overcome as Elizabeth City State claimed a 64-54 victory. For Davis, it was her second double-double of the season and her fourth straight game reaching double digits. It was a streak that ended with a nine-point performance in a tough overtime loss to Virginia State. DeShaera Boone had 18 points, seven rebounds against five assists against the Lady Trojans.
AWESOME TWOSOME: Fayetteville State’s Deja Middleton and Amber Calvin are reaching super-hero status as they continue to put up numbers for the balanced Lady Broncos. Right now, they are a better duo than Batman and Robin. Instead of fighting crime, they’re just grinding down the opposition one rebound and basket at a time. Middleton posted two double-doubles last week to raise her season total to eight as Fayetteville State beat Livingstone and Winston-Salem State. Meanwhile, Calvin averaged 15.5 points for FSU, which upped its overall record to 14-4. Playing the role of Commissioner Gordon as traffic director is Akysia Resper, who is third in the conference in assists, at 3.9 per contest and second in the league in steals, with 3.2 per game. The Lady Broncos will put their four-game winning streak on the line when they host Shaw, who is also 3-0 in the South, Wednesday night in a first-place showdown.
DIAMONDS ARE A GIRLS BEST FRIEND: Shaw’s Diamond Mitchell had another productive week for the Bears, who improved to 3-0 in the Southern Division, by averaging 18 points and seven assists in wins over Winston-Salem State and St. Augustine’s. In a 67-58 win over St. Augustine’s, Mitchell produced 13 points and delivered eight assists. Overall, Shaw has won eight of its last 10 games. Ariel Hatcher also scored 23 points for the Lady Bears in the win over WSSU. It was Hatcher’s fourth game this year with 20 or more points.
PAM PERFORMS: The Lincoln University junior Zeprah Pam recorded her fifth double of the season posting 18 points with 15 rebounds in a 65-63 win for the Lady Lions over Virginia Union. It was the 11th win for the Lady Lions, which surpassed last year’s win total of 10. In addition, the 11 wins are the most for The Lincoln University as a Division II program. The 6-0 criminal justice major from Syracuse averages 9.8 points and 9.0 rebounds. Lincoln has won five straight home games with two more contests this week at Rivero Hall against Chowan on Wednesday and Virginia State on Saturday.
THEY ALSO SHINED: Lisa Saunders scored a career-high 13 points for The Lincoln University against Elizabeth City State…Bowie State juniors Donia Naylor, Ashley Castle and graduate student Ashley Davis combined to score 29 points to lead Bowie State to a 51-49 victory over Virginia Union….Deanna Downer scored 16 points for Johnson C. Smith in a setback to St. Augustine’s…Winston-Salem State’s Jasmine Elum averaged 21.5 points in a pair of losses to Shaw and Fayetteville State…Virginia Union’s Melyse Brown (17 points, 11 rebounds) and Jasmine Dancy (12, 10) had double-doubles against Bowie State while Ashle Freeman scored 20 points against The Lincoln University…Saint Augustine’s rallied from a 14-point first half deficit to beat Johnson C. Smith, 64-57…Regime McCombs (13 points), Terri Jacobs (11 points) and Ebony Spencer (10 points) led the Lady Falcons against JCSU….The Virginia State-Chowan game postponed last week will be played on Monday, Feb. 17 in Murfreesboro at 5:30 p.m.