Charlotte, NC (March 2, 2018) – Fourth-ranked Virginia Union had a huge first quarter, holding Lincoln to just four points and cruised the rest of the way, taking a 73-50 win in the CIAA women's basketball semifinals on Friday afternoon at the Spectrum Center in Uptown Charlotte.
In the first quarter, the Lions struck first, going ahead 2-0, but VUU responded with an 8-2 run to grab the 10-4 lead. During the span, Alexis Johnson and Shareka McNeill connected on
three pointers with Johnson adding a fast break layup before the media timeout.
Johnson then found herself inside and converted the layup while being fouled but was unable to make the free throw. The next VUU trip down the floor, Johnson again found the basket, this time knocking down a long jumper to stake the 14-4 lead. After a Lincoln miss, Shameka McNeill connected from the right side, forcing Lincoln to call a timeout, down 17-4.
Lincoln's drought continued, with Rejoice Spivey getting into the scoring for VUU, making it 21-4 at the end of the first quarter.
The Lion's scoring drought continued into the second quarter, with VUU getting a three-pointer from Rachel Pecota to make it 27-4 at the 8:13 mark. The Lions finally scratched the scoreboard at 7:45 of the second quarter, ending a scoring drought of 8:36 when Teira Pendleton hit a free throw to make it 27-5. The free throw ignited a quick 6-0 burst for Lincoln, with Ashley Hightower connecting on a layup while being fouled. Her free throw cut the VUU lead to 27-10.
The Panthers continued their smothering defense, limiting Lincoln to just two addition points, as they took the 38-12 lead into halftime. For the half, Virginia Union returned a 61.5% effort from the field (16-of-26) while Lincoln was just the opposite, managing only 14.8% (4-of-27).
In the third quarter, VUU went ahead 38-14 and held at least a 20-point lead throughout, until Lincoln cut it to 55-40 at the 6:21 mark of the fourth quarter. From there, Virginia Union regrouped and pushed the lead to their largest of the game, 27 points (71-44) with just 1:30 remaining, eventually taking the 73-50 win and advancing to Saturday's championship game.
Alexis Johnson led all scorers with 20 points for Virginia Union, as the Panthers improved to
27-2 overall. She also pulled down 11 rebounds for her ninth double-double of the season. Freshman Shareka McNeill had 16 points and senior Rachel Pecota finished with 15.
Rejoice Spivey also had a great game, dishing out 10 assists and finishing with six rebounds.
Lincoln completed their season at 18-11 overall and was led by Teira Pendleton with 15 points. Michelle Fitzgerald had 10 for the lions while Shahra Madison had a team-best seven rebounds.