Claflin University has been in the CIAA for two seasons, but it introduced itself to anyone who didn’t know about it on Wednesday night.
CU got off to a fast start, weathered a raging comeback attempt and emerged with a 63-58 win over defending champion and CIAA North no. 1 Virginia State.
“We’re not unknowns,” head coach Ricky Jackson told the media after the game. “We might be unknown to the masses, in terms of fans…but these coaches know who we are.”
The fourth-seed from the CIAA South won the game less than 24 hours after beating Elizabeth City State for its first-ever win in the CIAA Tournament. It will have Thursday off as it awaits the winner of the Livingstone/Winston-Salem State quarterfinal game.
Claflin led by as many as many as 13 points in the first half. VSU never led by more than two points in the game.
Donnell Frayer Jr. led Claflin with a game-high 20 points on 7-for-13 shooting while Cornelius Reynolds put up 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
Andrew Corum led the way for Virginia State, scoring 19 points on 8-for-13 shooting.
On the up-and-coming
It’s been an up-and-down season for Claflin. The team has been streaky at best, as evidenced by its 15-15 record. However the 2018 SIAC champions split with WSSU, handing it one of just two division losses, and swept Livingstone.
And its feeding off the confidence of its head coach.
“You heard what my coach said,” Frayer told HBCU Gameday after the win. “When a leader feels like that, the pack will follow.”
Two years ago, everyone in the SIAC thought the title would come down to Morehouse and Clark Atlanta, only to have Claflin steal the show and the crown on its way out of the conference. Could Ricky Jackson and his squad be setting us up to do the same in Charlotte?