RALEIGH The Shaw Bears had lost six of their past seven games. In addition, their top scorer, senior forward Karron Johnson, is no longer on the team. But if you’re going to right the ship, there’s no better time to do it than against your archrival.
The Bears did just that with a hard-fought 83-77 Saturday win at St. Augustine’s. While Shaw (14-10, 8-6 CIAA) broke its three-game losing streak, the Falcons (15-9, 8-6) extended theirs to three.
“The seniors made the difference,” Shaw coach Cleo Hill Jr. said. “During our bad stretch, we had been begging for them to step up and show some leadership, and they did that today.”
Seniors Taurus Dortch, Junius Chaney and Latrail McCoy combined for 56 points. Dortch hurt the Falcons the worst, scoring 17 in the second half. He was 10 of 13 from the field, including 5 for 5 from 3-point range.
“I was missing my shots in warm-up but they felt good leaving my hands, so I thought I might have a good game,” Dortch said. “We needed this win.”
Shaw trailed 44-37 at halftime even though both teams shot above 50 percent, including 45 percent from 3-point range. St. Aug’s halftime lead was mainly due to its dominance on the boards. The Falcons outrebounded Shaw 21-10, with nine of those coming on offense.
After trailing by eight points midway the second half, Dortch’s hot hand became contagious. McCoy took some of the double teams off Dortch by scoring seven straight points to give the Bears a 66-65 lead with 6 minutes, 15 seconds left. Shaw went 6 of 6 on 3-pointers in the second half and never trailed again.
The Bears also increased their defensive intensity. They held St. Aug’s to 25 percent 3-point shooting in the second half. St. Aug’s had a chance to tie the game with 48.8 seconds left, but Shaw’s defense came through again when McCoy stole the ball and was fouled.
“We just didn’t finish and didn’t defend well against their 3-point shooting,” said Falcons coach Lonnie Blow Jr., who was 5-0 against Shaw before Saturday. “But they made some tough shots, so I give them all the credit.”
Hill admits the win was extra sweet against a rival, but whether Shaw is back on the right track is still in question.
“Yeah, I kept hearing how he (Blow) was 5-0 against us, so it is a little extra special. Having him back in the conference helps our rivalry,” he said. “Have we turned the corner? I’ll let you know after practice tomorrow.”