Shaw kept a hold on first place in the CIAA Southern Division with a hard-fought 51-46 men’s basketball win over rival St. Augustine’s on Saturday at Spaulding Gymnasium.
The victory was sweet revenge after last year’s double-overtime loss on a last-second shot by Falcons guard Anthony Gaskins.
“It was in the back of our minds about what happened last year, but we tried to look at it like a business,” said senior center Joshua Cassady, who scored a team-high 13 points. “It is a rivalry, but we try not to take it too personal.”
The Bears (8-9, 2-0 CIAA Southern Division) have been the victims of last-second losses three times this season, including twice by Virginia Union. After losing three straight games at the end of December, Shaw is .500 in its past four games.
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The win keeps the Bears a game ahead of Livingstone. Shaw hosts the Blue Bears at 7:30 p.m. on Monday.
Shaw coach Joel Hopkins was surprised to learn of his team’s first-place standing.
“Really? We’ve been here before, and the guys are playing tougher,” said Hopkins, who guided the Bears to their first CIAA tournament championship in his first stint with the team.
Leading 30-24 at halftime, the Bears never relinquished the lead in the second period, despite several challenges by the Falcons (10-10, 1-2).
St. Aug’s junior forward Quincy January, who is third in the conference in scoring, was held to just six second-half points after scoring 14 in the first half.
The Falcons closed to within one on a 5-0 run with 4:05 left, helped by three straight missed free throws by the Bears. Cassady also had a dunk negated from a shot clock violation.
But the Falcons, who have lost four of their last five contests, couldn’t capitalize any further, with two straight misses under the basket and two missed front ends of a one-and-one.
Cassady’s dunk with 58 seconds left gave the Bears a 50-43 lead before teammate DeAaron Ward’s block on January’s layup sealed the deal.
“He (Cassady) is why we’re where we are now,” Hopkins said. “He’s our big guy, and he’s been doing the job for us.”