ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. – Two of the best defenses in NCAA Division II squared off when Saint Augustine’s University and Elizabeth City State University met at the R.L. Vaughn Center on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. As expected, the CIAA men’s basketball contest was a low-scoring affair.
Unfortunately for the Falcons, the Vikings had a little more offense at the end to survive 63-58. The loss snapped a three-game win streak for the Falcons (8-4, 1-1 CIAA).
The contest typified the hard-nosed attitude of both teams. Both teams got after each other from the opening tip. Contested shots were the norm and easy layups were few in the halfcourt sets.
The Falcons rank 17th and the Vikings 22nd in field goal percentage defense. In the CIAA, the Falcons and Vikings are one and two, respectively, with both teams holding opponents to under 39 percent shooting.
Both teams played their usual standard defense on Saturday. Neither team shot higher than 37 percent, but turnovers and missed free throws by the Falcons ultimately gave the Vikings the edge. The Vikings scored 16 points off 19 SAU turnovers, and the Falcons made only 11 of 21 free throws for 53 percent.
“The effort was there,” St. Aug Head Coach Lonnie Blow, Jr. said. “We defended the three and outrebounded them (48-38), but had some mental lapses here and there.”
The Vikings hit 18 of 27 free throws including six of eight in the last five minutes. It enabled the Vikings to outscore the Falcons 14-9 to break away from a 49-49 tie at the 5:17 mark.
Percy Woods (Sr./Washington, D.C.) led the Falcons with 13 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Jonathan Crawley (So./Hampton, Va.) added nine points off the bench and Nick Chamblee (Sr./Hampton, Va.) had seven points. For ECSU, Angelo Sharpless paced three double-figure scorers with 14 points. Deon Rice had 11 and Glenn Patterson scored 10 points for the Vikings (8-4, 1-1 CIAA).
The Falcons shot out to a 23-12 lead with seven minutes left in the first half, but he Vikings climbed back in the contest when the Falcons failed to score a field goal the rest of the half. By halftime, the score was 24-23 in favor of the Falcons.
“We had a chance to put them in a deeper hole but didn’t,” Blow said.
The first half set up what would be a nail-biting second half. The Falcons led much of the second stanza but by a slim margin as both teams battled tenaciously. Jon Kindred (Sr./Raleigh, N.C.) drained a medium range shot for a 42-37 lead, but the Vikings closed within 48-47 on a three-pointer at the six-minute mark.
The Vikings tied the game at 49-49 on a transition layup with 5:15 left in the game. They took their first lead since the early moments at 51-49 on two free throws. The Falcons re-tied the game at 51-51 on a one-handed dunk by Crawley off a nifty assist on a bounce pass from Woods.
A big rebound by Chris Johnson (R-Jr./Hampton, Va.) led to his free throw for a one-point lead, but the Vikings canned a three-pointer for a 54-52 lead with 2:12 remaining. The Vikings stretched the margin to 59-52 after the Falcons missed three times and committed a turnover.
Another offensive rebound by Johnson led to two more free throws by the forward from Hampton, Va. It sliced the ECSU lead to 59-54. After ECSU missed a layup, the Falcons had a chance to trim the lead even more. Chamblee was fouled and made both free throws to make the contest a one-possession game at 59-56.
But the Vikings made two free throws for a five-point lead with 25 seconds left. The Falcons pulled within three on two free throws by Kyle Saunders (So./Hampton, Va.). After ECSU make one of two free throw attempts, the Falcons missed on a driving layup. With 4.9 seconds remaining, the Vikings knocked down a free throw for the final margin.
The Falcons will play the last of seven consecutive away games on Monday, Jan. 5, 2013, when they visit Chowan University in Murfreesboro, N.C. Game time is 7:30 p.m. at the Helms Center.