The CIAA Championship Game is set and its a matchup of a conference blue-blood and the hometown favorite.
Virginia Union and Johnson C. Smith will meet on Saturday in a battle for the CIAA title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament playoffs.
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VUU’s path to the title game went through rival Virginia State. VSU had beaten VUU twice during the regular season, but the third time was the charm for the team from Richmond.
The game was tight in the first half as the Panthers briefly led 22-21. The second half started mostly the same, with the Trojans taking a 32-30 lead with 15:55 remaining but would be outscored 37-20 the rest of the way as the Panthers won 67-52.
Korey Cooley scored a game-high 29 points, 22 of them in the second half.
Smith pulls past Bowie
Johnson C. Smith is the de facto home team of the CIAA took care of business on Friday night, defeating a gritty Bowie State squad 80-71. The two teams traded the lead back-and-forth for most of the game, as it was tied at 60 with just under five minutes to go before JCSU went on a 20-11 run to close the game and secure the title spot.
Roddric Ross led the way for JCSU, coming up with 20 points while CIAA Player of the Year Rob Davis added in 19 points.
The two teams met one time this season with JCSU eeking out a 65-63 win on Jan. 31.
Virginia Union will be looking to claim its 21st CIAA title, and its first CIAA Tournament win since 2006. JCSU will be looking to win its fourth CIAA Tournament, its first since 2009.