JCSU pulls off shocker, takes down CIAA Tourney favorite

Cinderella lives on Beaties Ford Rd. as JCSU notches CIAA tournament-altering win over Fayetteville State.

BALTIMORE, MD — It might be too early to say Cinderella lives on Beaties Ford Rd., but the JCSU women did pull off an CIAA Tournament upset Wednesday afternoon in Baltimore. 

JCSU used stifling defense to knock off no. 1 seed Fayetteville State 62-54, winning its second game in as many days and advancing to the semifinals of the CIAA Tournament. 

Interim head coach Dante Travis called the win a ‘get-back game.”

“We lost to Fayetteville State twice this season by 10 at their place…by one, a heartbreaking loss at home. So this is a get-back game for us. We were looking forward to this game. I think we were kind of evenly matched throughout the season.”

JCSU got a big effort offensively from Najah Lane, who scored 27 points in the win. 

“Honestly, we struggled a little bit during the regular season to play against them,” Jones said after the game. “I think coming into the tournament we just decided to just lock in and just figure out what our weaknesses was throughout the season and try to capitalize on that.”

Johnson C. Smith entered the tournament as the eighth seed after being picked to win the Southern Division in the preseason. It knocked off Virginia Union on Tuesday to move forward before the big win over FSU. 

Johnson C. Smith’s Kelis Carmon celebrates a win over Fayetteville State.

“We’ve been through a lot of adversity this year. But I think that made us grow as a team,” Travis said. “Especially towards the end of the season, coming into the tournament. We know if we stay together collectively as a team, just come in with this team camaraderie that we came into the tournament with, we were going to be okay.”

That adversity has come in several forms. Head coach Stephen Joyner Jr. abruptly resigned his post back in November, handing the team over to Travis. Then there were the injuries. Three players were lost to ACL injuries prior to the start of conference play. 

“We did have a lot of adversity beginning of the season, in the middle of the season throughout the conference,”Jones admitted. “And like you say, gelling together, playing as a team is what’s going to allow us to win this tournament.”

JCSU  (13-15) will get a day off before facing the winner of Thursday’s Bowie State-Elizabeth City State quarterfinal in the semis.

Smith trailed by seven with 5:29 remaining in the game and came out with a win. Jones said pulling off the close win was a confidence builder as the team moves forward to Friday.

“I feel as though it is going to help us for today, for Friday, for us to play. I feel like it’s just going to motivate us to keep pushing. I mean, we’re not done yet. We still got a whole nother game to play and this is just us being in the Final Four. We need to win the tournament.”

JCSU pulls off shocker, takes down CIAA Tourney favorite
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