|Freshman Michel Ofik-Nzege scored 16 points for WSSU in its quarterfinal win over Virginia Union. (WSSU Photo)|
(10) Winston-Salem State (21-5) vs. Bowie State (13-13)
How They Got Here: If there’s going to be any Cinderella team in this year’s tournament, it’ll have to be Bowie State. As expected, BSU easily defeated Chowan in its first game on Wednesday night. The fourth-seeded Bulldogs then took out top-seeded Lincoln 67-68 on Thursday night. Four Bulldogs scored double-figures, led by Byron Westmorland’s 18.
|Bowie State’s Byron Westmorland is
a dangerous scorer. (Afro Photo)
The fact that Winston-Salem State ended up in the semifinals is no surprise. The degree of difficulty WSSU had getting to the game was closer than it would have liked, though. Despite defeating Virginia Union 84-74, the Rams went long stretches without field goals and allowed Virginia Union to hang around until the final minutes.
How They Matchup: As with the other semifinal, these two teams are in different division’s of the CIAA and met only once this season. WSSU escaped Bowie with a 77-72 win, fueled by Justin-Glover’s career-high 31 points.
Bowie State is led by Byron Westmorland, a high-volume shooter from Baltimore who has never seen a shot he doesn’t like. Westmorland averaged 22 points per game. When he gets hot, watch out. Another player to watch for BSU is Najee White. White scored 14 point per game and grabbed 7 rebounds per contest while shooting 50 percent. The duo form a potent inside-out combo.
Winston-Salem State also has a solid inside-out combo, Glover and WyKevin Bazemore. Glover is an explosive guard who can do it all-shoot from outside, drive to the basket and defend. The senior was last year’s tournament MVP, leading the Rams to the program’s first CIAA championship in over a decade. After being selected as CIAA Conference Freshman of The Year, Bazemore was named All-CIAA. The Rams also feature 6’8 freshman Michel Ofik-Nzege, who scored 16 big points in Thursday’s win.
Bottom Line: As a nationally ranked team and the defending champion, WSSU is the favorite to win. But Bowie is a dangerous team, and are more than capable of pulling off an upset.