Playing for the CIAA women’s title means a chance at school history for Lincoln (Pa.).
The Lions, who returned to the league in 2010, turned back Livingstone 57-55 on Friday in the semifinals at Time Warner Cable Arena to earn a berth opposite Virginia State, which knocked off Shaw 69-47. Lincoln and Virginia State shared the North Division championship and split the regular season series.
“It means the world to us right now,” said Lions center Mieana Gaines. “Three or four years ago, nobody even believed in Lincoln. Right now, we’re just living in the moment.”
Lincoln (21-7, North No. 1 seed) needed a couple of clutch plays by guard Amani Clark in the final seconds to put Livingstone away. Clark hit a layup with 20.7 seconds left and a steal on the Blue Bears’ final possession to preserve the win.
Livingstone (26-2), which was the South’s third seed after self-reporting an ineligible player, trailed by as many as 10 points early, but scratched its way to a 55-55 draw on Precious Roberts’ basket with under a minute to play.
“It was a dogfight,” Lincoln coach Jessica Kern said. “This was an emotional game and so much leading up to this game, which everyone knows, but our young ladies have been playing with a purpose.”
Virginia State (18-9) had no issues dispatching Shaw (19-10), which had won the previous four titles. Fueled by four double-digit scorers, the Trojans built leads as large as 28 points in cruising to the win. Dashae Jones paced the attack with 17 points and five assists.
“We didn’t want to get into a track meet with them,” said Virginia State coach James Hill, who was 0-4 against Shaw in the semifinals. “We wanted to run our offense and use as much time of possession as possible.”
After winning on the other team’s home floor during the regular season, Virginia State and Lincoln will get another chance to settle the series on the league’s biggest stage.
“Now we’ve got to settle who’s going to be the real champs,” Hill said.