Jan 7, 2013
Petersburg, Va. — Everything seemed to click for the Shaw Bears at just the right time as they cruised to a 78-60 victory over Virginia State on Monday night in a game played at Daniel Gymnasium on the campus of Virginia State University.
After Virginia State scored to pull within four at 51-47, the Bears closed out the contest on a 27-13 run over the final 14 minutes of play to pull away from the Trojans. The Bears turned up the pressure defensively as well, limiting Virginia State to just 30 percent shooting from the floor in the game.
At the half, the Bears were outrebounded 25-16, 13 of which came on the offensive glass for Virginia State, which kept the Trojans alive in the contest. In the second half, however, Shaw won the battle of the boards, outrebounding Virginia State 19-12 and limiting the Trojans to just five offensive boards.
"At halftime, we saw that they weren't shooting a very good percentage," said Shaw head coach Cleo Hill, Jr. "They were in the game because they were getting offensive rebounds, they had 13 at the half. So that was a focus for us in the second half, we wanted to continue to play good defense but we had to get those defensive rebounds. We did that about three or four times in the second half and the lead opened up to about 12 and we kind of just went from there."
The win is the fifth straight for the Bears, who improve to 9-4 on the season and 3-0 in the CIAA. Virginia State falls to 6-6 overall and 1-2 in the conference.
"Anytime you can win three straight conference games is always a plus," said Hill. "The thing that we have to do is build on the things that we are doing well and shut down some of the things that we're not doing so well."
A quartet of Bears finished in double digits with Karron Johnson leading the way with a game-high 23 points and eight rebounds. Taurus Dortch added 16 points, Curtis Hines had 13 and Latrail McCoy added 11 points and nine assists in the win.
The Bears had a strong night offensively, especially in the second half where they shot 17-of-27 for 63 percent. Overall, the Bears shot 28-of-52 from the floor for a 53.8 percent rate, marking the fifth straight game that the Bears have shot at least 45 percent as a team.
The first half was a series of scoring runs by both teams as Virginia State got off to a quick 4-0 lead thanks to two quick buckets by Kenny Mitchell. Shaw responded with a 9-0 run of their own to take a 9-4 lead with 14:36 remaining in the opening period.
The Bears held a 20-13 cushion with 9:09 remaining in the frame thanks to a down court pass by McCoy, who found Johnson all alone under the basket for the easy layup. The Trojans answered with a 7-0 run over the next two-plus minutes, capped off by a three-pointer by Allen Harris which tied the game at 20 with 6:47 left in the period.
The Bears went on a mini-spurt of their own, responding with a 10-2 run to build a 30-22 lead after two successful free throws by Dortch. The Trojans answers with a 10-2 run to tie the game at 32 with 18 ticks remaining in the half. With 10 seconds remaining, McCoy drove the length of the floor and converted on a layup to give the Bears a 34-32 lead at halftime.
The Trojans struggled from the floor in the first half, shooting just 9-of-35 for 25.7 percent. They were 12-of-12 from the charity stripe, which helped keep them in the contest.
Shaw opened the second half on a 12-4 run to build a 46-36 edge over the Trojans with 16:57 remaining. The run was capped off with a key steal from Dortch, who drove the length of the floor and converted the layup to give Shaw the comfortable margin.
Virginia State responded with an 11-5 run and cut it to four on a successful three-point play conversion by James Vann, who was fouled after sinking a layup. After he hit the free throw, the Bears held a slim 51-47 lead with 14:01 remaining.
The Bears held the Trojans scoreless for nearly five and a half minutes as they answered with a 12-0 run to build a 63-47 lead with 9:33 remaining. The Trojans didn't score again until the 8:40 mark when Mitchell hit a layup to bring the Trojans to within 14 at 63-49.
Shaw extended its run to 21-4 to build a 72-51 margin with 3:39 remaining, giving Shaw its largest lead of the night on a layup from Junius Chaney. Over the final stages of the game, the closest Virginia State would get was 16 when Mitchell sank a jumper with 1:44 left to make it 74-58.
Mitchell led the Trojans with 20 points and eight rebounds. Harris added 16 points for Virginia State. Shawn Porter finished with just four points but snagged down a game-high 10 rebounds in a losing effort.
The Bears will return to action when they host Virginia Union on Thursday night at C.C. Spaulding Gymnasium. It will be just the second home game of the season for the Bears, who concluded their seven-game road trip with a 5-2 mark.
"It's been a long time since we've been home," said Hill. "It'll be good to get back in our gym playing in front of our student body, faculty and staff."