CHARLOTTE — The CIAA womens championship was again Shaws for the taking.
The Bears won their third straight title and eighth in 11 years by rolling past Fayetteville State 72-53 Saturday at Time Warner Cable Arena. Shaw, which won the Division II national championship last year, systematically took apart the Broncos, who split a pair of regular season games. The Bears, who improved to 25-4, overcame injuries and roster churn to become the first CIAA program to win three straight titles twice.
This team has been through a lot, Bears coach Jacques Curtis said. We started with 17-18 girls and end with 11, then one goes down the day before the last game, so that was a big hit right there. Weve had moments when everybody on this team came up big for us.
This time around, it was Shaws bench, which outscored Fayetteville States, 38-6. Reserves Crystal Harris and tournament MVP Taylor Dalrymple scored 18 and 16 points, respectively, on 13-of-28 shooting to complement starter Crystal Wilsons 18. The Bears were especially potent in the paint, scoring 40 points in the lane to the Broncos 16.
Our post (players) wanted it, Curtis said. They knew to win that game they had to battle. We were hungry. They were hungry but we were hungrier.
Fayetteville State (24-5) trailed 30-26 at halftime, but couldnt keep pace with Shaws relentless interior play. Dalrymple, Harris and Wilson had their way with the Broncos in the paint, going to the hoop to offset a 0-for-13 effort from beyond the arc. Fayetteville State went 7-for-21 from three-point range, but it wasnt enough to slow the Bears, who pulled away with an 11-3 run to open the second half and stymied the Broncos with a 2-3 zone that proved tough to solve.
We pretty much got from Shaw what we expected, Fayetteville State coach Eva Patterson-Heath said. We knew they were going to zone us and thats what they did the entire game.
Shaw led by as many as 11 in the first half as the Bears bench sparked a 30-26 advantage at the break. Harris and Dalrymple scored seven points each and Shaws backups outscored Fayetteville States 18-4. The Broncos, who were led by Akysia Respers 16 points and Alicia Persons 11, connected on 28.6 percent of their shots (18-of-63) and were outrebounded 48-41. The Bears also got to the free throw line 22 times with 18 conversions against Fayetteville States 10-of-11.
We knew the key to the game was rebounding and free throws, Curtis said. When we lost to them the first time, they outrebounded us and shot more free throws than us. When we played the second time in Fayetteville, we outrebounded them and shot more free throws. That was the difference in the game.