Claflin continues to make noise in CIAA with statement win

Claflin, the newest program in the CIAA, continues to surge, thriving in the league’s tough environments.

WINSTON-SALEM, NC — Claflin University showed up in one of the CIAA’s toughest venues and showed that the New Kids on the Block won’t be intimidated.

Claflin showed up to a packed C.E. Gaines Center and handed Winston-Salem State just its second home loss in the past three years with a 71-62 win on the road. 

The Panthers shot a blazing 55.3 percent from the field and hit 82.4 percent of its free throws in the win. They led by as many as 14 points with 10:37 remaining in the game. The Rams were able to cut the lead to four but were never able to wrangle the lead back after it fave up a 9-7 advantage early in the game.

Bryson Dennis led Claflin with a game-high 17 points while DaiJohn Stewart added 12 points and added five assists. 

“All our guys were ready to go,” Claflin head coach Brion Dunlap said after the game. “I guess they ate good today. They slept well last night.”

Winston-Salem State probably won’t sleep well for a while. Claflin out-rebounded WSSU 28-16 and WSSU grabbed just 14 offensive rebounds all game. It also failed to get to the free throw line, attempting just 10 and hitting just 

Samage Teel led WSSU with 16 points and Jaylon Gibson added 14 for the Rams, who fell to 16-6 on the season.

Claflin making noise

Claflin improved to 18-4 on the season, and more importantly 9-4 in CIAA play. That record put it in control of the CIAA Southern Division with three games remaining before the CIAA Tournament.

It’s been an impressive season so far considering Dunlap was hired as Claflin’s coach last summer. He inherited a program that was 7-20 in 2022.

Dunlap said the support he’s received from Claflin administration has been key to the program’s quick turnaround. 

“And our guys have really bought in allowing me to coach them. They’ve worked extremely hard. The end result is the games, but the work they put into practice in the preseason has been great and we’re still continuing to try to work and continue to try to make things happen.”

In addition to Claflin’s win over WSSU in the C.E. Gaines Center, Dunlap’s program went up to Richmond, Virginia in December and ended Virginia Union’s 28-game home winning streak.

For the first-year head coach of the CIAA’s newest program, winning those games is a direct result of practicing hard.

“We just try to make the practice extremely hard. So when we come in environments like this that it is just basketball,” Dunlap said. “The crowd is great and the noise is great, but we try to prepare for and understand that we got to play the five on the court. You can’t play everybody’s in the stands as well. So our guys are really, really bought in and it and we’ve done a good job.”

Claflin continues to make noise in CIAA with statement win
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