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Hawks lose finale

MURFREESBORO – Tournament-tested tough.

It’s what Virginia Union is, and what Chowan perhaps one day will be.

Playing their final home regular-season game the Hawks dropped their third game in a row, 77-62, to the Panthers, who are currently ranked sixth in the NCAA Division-II South Atlantic Region, and completing a season-sweep having won in Richmond back on January 10, 7059.  The loss put Chowan’s record at 11-15.

&uot;You’ve got to look at the big picture,&uot; said Hawks coach Jim Tribbett. &uot;I thought 12 wins against this really aggressive schedule would be realistic, and we came up one game short.&uot;

Freshman Charles Rhodes led Chowan’s scoring with 17 points, hitting five of nine three-point attempts; while Roderick Ramsay, who closed out his regular-season career along with fellow four-year player, Montino Williams, on &uot;Senior Day&uot; had 12 points and eight rebounds in only his second start this year.

&uot;It meant a lot to me as a senior,&uot; said the Toronto, Canada native, &uot;getting 20 minutes of playing time to try and help us win since going into the tournament it’s going to be all about rebounding.&uot;

The Panthers raced out to an early 16-4 lead and never looked back, shooting a blistering 65 percent in the first half with 80 percent from three-point range and finished the contest shooting 52 percent.

They also out-rebounded the Hawks in the first half, 21-11, but Chowan won the second half, outscoring their CIAA opponents, 29-27.

VUU built a lead of 18 points four times in the first 20 minutes of play; and the Hawks were limited in the front-court against the quicker, more agile, Panthers after losing forward Lando Morrison late in the first half.

Going after a rebound, Morrison received a vicious elbow to his face with under five minutes to play in the half and crumpled to the floor.  He was helped back to the bench and did not return for the rest of the game. His status for the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) South Region, which Chowan will host March 10-12 at the Helms Center, is unknown.  Chowan trailed at halftime, 50-33.

In the second half the Panthers upped their lead to 22 in the first four and a half minutes of play, but Rhodes’ three-point shooting kept the game from becoming a runaway. Several times the Chapel Hill freshman bombed away from beyond the arc and the Hawks were able to whittle the margin down to a 14-point deficit with nine minutes remaining. 

Content to use their half-court offense to attack the Panthers’ zone, Chowan milked the clock with crisp ball-movement to get efficient shots, but the Panthers were there for every miss, and were able to keep a comfortable lead.

With two and a half minutes to play, a Rhodes three-pointer trimmed the margin to 14, and VUU coach Dave Robbins began to clear his bench.

The Hawks tried to take advantage, but missed five shots over a minute and a half span and could get no closer, scoring only one more field goal for the game and ceding a 15-point loss.  Despite dropping their final trio of games, the losses came against two nationally-ranked D-II powers (VUU and Mt. Olive), and one Division-I opponent in North Carolina Central.

&uot;It’s going to help us going into the post-season,&uot; said Williams, &uot;because we’re not going to see these type of guys (sic) going into the post-season.  We’ve taken our lumps, and now it’s time to dish some out.&uot;

&uot;We had moments where we played well in these last three losses,&uot; added Tribbett. &uot;My thing now is to win the region (NCCAA South) where we’ll be the top seed because if we take those three games and then three more in the finals we’ll have 17 wins and be national champions.

And, be tournament-tested tough.