Clutch plays late boost St. Aug to CIAA quarterfinals
Posted February 28, 2013
Charlotte, N.C. — The second-round game in the CIAA Tournament involving Saint Augustine’s University at Time Warner Cable Arena featured many highs and lows than a ride at the State Fair, but in the end, the Falcons did what they mainly do under a squad coached by Lonnie Blow, Jr. – they win.
The Falcons, seeded fourth in the Southern Division, have lost only once in the CIAA Tournament in the three years that Blow has been at the helm. They were pushed to the limit by a game Virginia State squad after controlling the first half and leading by as much as 14 in the second half, but the Falcons prevailed 60-56 on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, with toughness, clutch plays and good decisions.
The toughness showed in the latter stages after the Trojans (13-15), seeded No. 5 in the Northern Division, tied the score on two free throws with 30 seconds left. The Falcons could have rolled over, but they were composed after a timeout and made plays down the stretch which ultimately determined the game.
“I thought we played well for most of the game,” Blow said. “We got off to a really good start. We were consistent for most of the game. We guarded them. We did an outstanding job of rebounding the ball. We gang rebounded in the first half. But down the stretch, I thought we kind of relaxed and didn’t do the things that got us the lead, especially on the defensive end of the floor.
“We probably played 36 good minutes, but we’re not perfect so we’re going to make some mistakes. But in the end, I thought we did a good job. I though we made some big plays here and there to pull it out.”
The clutch plays occurred after the timeout. All-CIAA guard Percy Woods (Sr./Washington, D.C.) drove the middle of the lane and found a wide-open Jonathan Crawley (So./Richmond, Va.) underneath the basket. Crawley missed the dunk, but he gathered his composure, grabbed the rebound and scored a layup as he was fouled. Crawley swished the free throw to erase a tie game and put the Falcons ahead 58-55 with nine seconds left.
“It’s a play that Percy and I run all the time,” Crawley said. “When I missed it, my heart dropped. I knew that the next best thing to do was get the rebound and go back up as quickly as I could.”
Another clutch play occurred with two seconds left when Jon Kindred (Jr./Raleigh, N.C.) calmly sank two free throws with four seconds left for the final margin. The good decision in between both plays came when Nick Chamblee (Sr./Hampton, Va.) fouled Mike Bynum when the Trojans needed a three. With the Trojans in the bonus, Bynum stepped to the line for two shots. He missed the first but made the second. However, the Falcons were ahead by two points and all the Trojans could hope for was a foul and a miss at the free throw line. The Trojans got the foul but Kindred made sure there would be no comeback.
“It is a strategy that many coaches use,” Blow said. “Obviously, they needed a three and we wanted to take away that opportunity.”
These types of characteristics displayed against Virginia State makes the Falcons a dangerous squad heading into Thursday’s 7 p.m. quarterfinal round against Livingstone, the Southern Division champions and top seed in the division. Despite a rollercoaster ride the last 10 games – five straight wins followed by five consecutive losses – the Falcons showed why they are a tough opponent against the Blue Bears. The teams split during the regular season.
Crawley scored 12 points to lead four Falcons in double figures. He also added seven rebounds. Tyquan Stroman (Sr./Pougheepsie, N.Y.) added 11 points while Jon Kindred and Joel Kindred (Jr./Raleigh, N.C.)both added 10 points. Woods had eight points and six assists including a nifty bounce pass behind a trailing defender to Joel Kindred for a two-handed dunk.
“It’s really a play that coach doesn’t want us making a lot,” Joel Kindred said. “But we always try it and this is probably the first time it’s worked. So I guess it worked out for the best. It got us a momentum swing and got us on the right track.”
Chris Johnson (RJr./Hampton, Va.) had 11 rebounds as the Falcons smashed VSU on the boards 45-27.The Trojans were led by 20 points from Christopher Grier and 12 from Kenny Mitchell.
“It all came down until one play, the rebound putback and the three-point play,” VSU Head Coach Darryl Jacobs said. “Hats off to Saint Augustine’s. Coach Blow and those guys did a great job. Second-chance points were 16-12 and that was a plus four for Saint Augustine’s. The difference there was four points and we lost by four. The second-chance points really stood out. They outrebounded us 45-27. We knew coming into the game that was their forte. We gave up 19 offensive rebounds and anytime you do that, it’s a receipt for disaster.
The Falcons started out like gangbusters from the opening tap, showcasing a type of energy that the Trojans, who advanced to the second round with a win over Fayetteville State, clearly wasn’t ready for. The Falcons showed intensity in defending and running their offense. It helped the Falcons open a big lead.
Early three-point baskets by Woods and Tyquan Stroman (Sr./Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) set the tone for the Falcons, who jumped out to a 27-11 lead. Once they build the early lead, the Falcons maintained it throughout the first half and much of the second half. But the Trojans, sensing their season was coming to an end, began chipping away at the lead. The Trojans started trapping which helped them climb back in the contest.
Somehow, the Trojans tied the score at 55-55 with 30 seconds left on two free throws by James Vann. But just when the game appeared to be slipping away, the Falcons responded under pressure. It should be no shock; however, since Coach Blow teams usually are at their best when it is time to step up.
“I’m proud of the guys,” Blow said. “They hung in there when there was a little bit of adversity, but at the end of the day, we’re moving on.”