St. Augustine’s tops Chowan in finale

Published 3:32 pm Thursday, February 18, 2010

MURFREESBORO – Pink and blue.

Chowan University closed out its home women’s basketball season Monday night with their annual WBCA PinkZone game against the Falcons of St. Augustine’s College. It was also Senior Night for players Tameka Christopher and Demicka McMahan.

And while the Hawks gave a valiant effort in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association contest, St. Aug’s prevailed in the end, 84-75. Much of that can be credited to the Falcons’ inside game, where they out-rebounded Chowan, 43-13.

“Obviously there was a large discrepancy between what they were able to do on the backboard and what we were able to do,” said sixth-year coach Pat Mashuda after the game. “But our kids played hard and they gave everything they had.”

With an ocean of pink enveloping the Helms Center – St. Aug’s women even wearing pink uniforms – junior Najah Harris led Chowan’s (9-15, 6-13, CIAA) scoring with 22 points. Ransheeda Jennings added 12, and senior Christopher – in her final home game – contributing a dozen as well. Talaya Lynch had 11.

St. Augustine’s Keyona Bryant led all scorers, and three Falcons in double-figures with 26.

McMahan and Christopher started the game for Chowan and Christopher was fighting until the end, attempting an off-balance three-point shot from half-court as the clock expired.

“Had to leave ’em something with my last game on the home court,” said the emotional Fredericksburg, Virginia native after the game. “How I feel hasn’t really set in yet, but I had a kind of weird feeling at the end.

“All I asked them before the game was to give me their all,” she added, “and we played hard so they gave me their all.”

St. Augustine’s broke out to an 8-0 lead before Chowan broke the drought with a Lynch three-pointer. The Falcons then reeled off 12 unanswered to stake St. Aug’s to their biggest lead of the night at 20-3.

Over the next 10 minutes of the first half Chowan outscored St. Aug’s 18-12 despite being out-rebounded 9-to-3 and got the lead under double-digits on Lynch’s layup to 32-23 with under three minutes to halftime.

Jennings got a pair of free throws to get the deficit to seven, 32-25, before St. Aug’s closed the first-half with a run to lead it, 36-27, at the break.

Chowan opened the second half by trimming the Falcon lead to three, 38-35, thanks to Harris and Christopher before St. Aug’s reasserted itself once again inside and pushed their advantage to 11 with under 16 minutes to play.

The Hawks then had their most inspired run thanks to taking advantage of St. Aug’s turnovers and went on a 21-to-11 spurt to get within a point, 59-58, with under 10 minutes to go.

Their transition game continued and Chowan took the lead, 60-59, and upped it to a three-point margin on Le’Cetra Arrington’s layup to make it, 62-59.

After the Hawks had their final lead, 64-63, with some six minutes to go, Bryant scored eight in a row for St. Aug’s and Chowan was never able to catch back up. The Falcons’ 20 second-half points in the paint helped as St. Aug’s (16-9, 12-6, CIAA) took the nine-point win.

“This effort makes us hungry for Shaw (the regular-season finale on Saturday in Raleigh)”, said Lynch, “and we hope to carry that over into the tournament (February 23-27 in Charlotte).”

“We won two in a row and then lost it a little bit,” added Harris, “but slowly but surely we’re getting it back.”