BALTIMORE, MD – Elizabeth City State, the women’s fifth-seed at the CIAA Tournament, had none of its players make the all-conference team, But head coach Tynesha Lewis’s troops are continuing to find ways to get it done.
In Friday afternoon’s first women’s semifinals here at CFG Bank Arena, they held off upstart eighth-seed Johnson C. Smith 53-52 to earn their second straight trip to the CIAA women’s championship game.
Deja vu all over again
Five-seven junior guard Dy’Jhanik Armfield led the Lady Vike’s with a game-high 20 points. Armfield was ECSU’s lone double-figure scorer. It was a similar winning formula used in a 76-54 blowout win vs. fourth-seed Bowie State in Thursday’s quarterfinal round. In that game, junior guard NyAsia Blango was the lone double-figure scorer for ECSU with 30 points.
“She can do it all,” Lewis said of Armfield’s play. “Dy can score at all three levels, She can get to the rim. She can do this any given night. We have several players who can do this which takes the pressure off them individually. That means if somebody has a bad night, it’s not going to cost us the game.”
Blango had early foul trouble and finished with just two points in the semifinal win.
Elizabeth City looking for more
The win puts the Lady Vikings (19-10) in the championship game for the second straight season. They will face the winner of the 8 p.m. women’s semifinal between 2nd-seed Lincoln (Pa.) and 6th-seed Shaw.
A year ago, ECSU lost 67-52 to Lincoln in the women’s championship game.
We didn’t come back to get second,” Lewis said in the postgame press conference. “And that’s the mindset.”
ECSU never surrenders the lead
The Lady Vikings scored the game’s first nine points and led 15-11 after one quarter. Armfield had 11 first-half points as ECSU built a 34-23 halftime lead. They entered the fourth quarter up 47-38 before the Golden Bulls (13-16) mounted their comeback.
JCSU scored the first five points of the period, the last on two free throws by all-CIAA forward La’Zarea Bowens to cut the lead to 47-43 with 6:44 to play. They got even closer at 51-48 when all-CIAA guard Shaniya Jones nailed a 3-pointer with 3:44 left. ECSU got its last basket on a drive by Maryam Hashim at the 3:15 mark.
JCSU’s Tori Lane coverted in the lane with three minutes left and the lead was down to three, at 53-50. After securing three offensive rebounds, JCSU cashed in on two Bowen free throws to pull to within 53-52 with 1:34 to play.
Armfield missed a 3-pointer on ECSU’s possession. JCSU took some time off the clock before turning the ball over on an errant pass with just under a minute left. Another Lady Vikings miss gave JCSU the ball with just over 30 seconds left. They dribbled the clock down before Jones tried a shot in the lane that missed. A mad scramble ensued under the basket with ECSU gaining possession and calling a timeout. After a review, the refs gave the ball to ECSU with three-tenths of second left on the clock. ECSU inbound the ball as the clock expired.
Bowens’ 19 points and 7 rebounds led JCSU. Jones added 16 points.