Golden Bulls escape Chowan

Published 3:45 pm Friday, January 7, 2011

MURFREESBORO – Chowan University’s women’s basketball team, winners of three of their last five games to close out 2010, couldn’t quite ring in the new year on an up note Thursday night as they fell to the Golden Bulls of Johnson C. Smith University, 57-54, at the Helms Center.

The game was the only regular-season meeting between the two schools with Chowan now in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association’s North Division and Smith in the South.

The loss not only put a damper on the start of 2011, but it also meant the Hawks (3-6, 0-1, CIAA) failed to get back-to-back wins for the third time this season.

Senior Brittany Nicholson led all scorers with 13 points while junior Ransheeda Jennings put up 11 points and had eight assists.

Freshman Kiara Turner, playing in just her third game for Chowan, came off the bench to get 10 points and five rebounds while sophomore Talaya Lynch took rebounding honors with 12 boards.

Smith, who ran their win streak to eight in a row, had three players with 10 points each.

Chowan led the entire first half before falling behind by as many as eight with about two minutes remaining in the contest.

Then they almost pulled it out when Lynch nailed a three-point basket with under 30 seconds to play; and with under 10 seconds to go got within one on Jennings’ three point play.

Smith sealed it with a pair of free throws with seven seconds left and Chowan’s desperation shot to tie it at the buzzer missed.

Both teams are in the top-five in the CIAA in defense and it showed as each held the other to just 36.2 per cent shooting from the floor for the game; but Chowan committed 24 turnover to just 17 for Smith.

“That’s just who we are,” said Chowan coach Pat Mashuda afterward.  “(Defense) is just one of those things we’ve kind of hung our hat on here the last several years.

“We need to find a way to generate more points,” he added. “We had three players in double-figures tonight, but it just wasn’t enough.”

The Hawks also dressed only nine players for the game with freshmen Jennifer Mitchell and Courtney Knight  along with sophomore T’Arra Cutting sitting this one out.

“That had no bearing on the game,” emphasized Mashuda.  “We’ve got great people in this program; good kids that work hard, and those that were healthy got a chance to play tonight and help us almost get the job done.”

“We can’t blame (the circumstances),” said Nicholson, “we’ve just got to do a better job of being aggressive.”

Neither team put up an offensive explosion in the first half.

Chowan built a lead of six points three times in the first 10 minutes, scoring mainly in the low post thanks to seven points from Jennings before a pair of fouls sent her to the bench for the remainder of the half.

The Hawks then built their largest lead of the night, eight points, with under six minutes until the break on Lynch’s jump shot.

But Smith tied the score with under three minutes to go and it went back-and-forth until Smith tied it with less than a minute until halftime, making it 25-25 at the break.

Chowan missed their first five shots of the second half allowing Smith to build a lead of as many as four points in the first three minutes before Lynch nailed a three-pointer and Danielle Coleman banked in a layup to put the Hawks back in front.

They held that lead despite neither team shooting very well and built it to as many as six on Turner’s jump shot just inside the three-point arc to make it, 37-31, Chowan.

It went back-and-forth again, with Smith gnawing away at the lead before the Golden Bulls tied it at 42-all with under six minutes to go. After a pair of Smith free throws Coleman nailed a floater in the lane to tie it for the final time, 44-44.

Smith then scored eight in a row as Chowan failed to get defensive stops and the Golden Bulls took it up to 52-44 at the two-minute mark.  Nicholson’s twisting layup at a minute-and-a-half got it down to four before Chowan’s heroics in the final minutes came up short.

“Coach had to get rotations going to give people breaks,” said Jennings, “and we need to help more with our post play, but I think we’re okay heading into our next game.

“We just need to win it!,”,  she said with emphasis.

Chowan hosts Fayetteville State today (Saturday) again at the Helms Center with a 2 p.m. tip-off before the men’s game follows at 4 p.m.