Feb 23, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Moments after a 59-57 overtime loss to Fayetteville State University on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, Saint Augustine’s University Head Coach Lonnie Blow, Jr. was already thinking about the upcoming CIAA Tournament, which starts next week.
The tournament represents a new season for the Falcons, who finished tied for third in the Southern Division after being picked last in the preseason. The last time the Falcons (15-11 overall, 5-5 Southern Division) were in the tournament under Blow, they won the championship in 2010.
Despite going 5-5 in their last 10 games including five consecutive losses to end the season, Blow is optimistic heading into next week. The Falcons will play an undetermined opponent on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013. The pairings will be released on Sunday, Feb. 24.
“Tournament play is different,” Blow said. “Sometimes it brings out the best in teams.”
That is what Blow is counting on from his team. At one point, the Falcons were atop the Southern Division standings and riding a five-game win streak. They have split with every team in the division, including nationally-ranked Winston-Salem State, and are 3-3 against Northern Division teams.
The Falcons have the players to make a deep run. Forward Chris Johnson (R-Jr./Hampton, Va.) scored 11 points and pulled down a career-high 14 rebounds against the Broncos. All-CIAA forward Percy Woods, led all scorers with 14 points and guard Joel Kindred (Jr./Raleigh, N.C.) added 13 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Jonathan Crawley (So./Richmond, Va.) continued his strong play off the bench with nine rebounds. Guard Tyquan Stroman (Sr./Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) only had four points against FSU but he is among the better scorers in the league.
The Falcons get the job done on defense as well. They lead the CIAA in points allowed, field-goal percentage defense and rebounding margin. The Falcons are among the top 20 teams nationally in Division II in the latter two categories.
The Falcons overwhelmed the Broncos on the glass by a 61-40 margin including 31-9 in offensive rebounds. It kept the Falcons in the game despite frigid shooting (a season-low 24 percent). The Falcons scored 19 points on follow shots. During the regular season, the Falcons outrebounded their opponents in all but three games.
Blow says the key to a successful tournament hinges on paying attention to detail. The team who does that the best will walk away with the title.
“You have to do the little things,” Blow said. “Everything becomes important [in the tournament].”
That includes free throws. The Falcons held an opponent to under 60 points for the 10th time this season on Saturday, but free throws were their undoing against the Broncos. The Falcons made 18 of 35 free-throw attempts for 51.4 percent. Meanwhile, the Broncos hit 15 of 20 free throws for 75 percent.
It was a role reversal from the first meeting on Feb. 2 between the two teams in Fayetteville, N.C. The Falcons were 16 of 20 from the charity stripe for 80 percent while the Broncos were 11 of 23 for 48 percent.
The good news is the Falcons will likely shoot better than they did against FSU on Saturday. Their field-goal percentage for the season is close to 45 percent. Their free-throw shooting percentage for the season is 67 percent, but as Blow says, teams tend to rise to the occasion come tournament time. The Falcons are looking to be that team.
The contest against the Broncos was Senior Day. Six Falcons were honored on Senior Day at Emery Gymnasium along with the women's basketball and cheerleading seniors between the women’s and men’s games. They were Akeem Anderson (Memphis, Tenn.), Nick Chamblee (Hampton, Va.), Jon Kindred (Raleigh, N.C.), Stroman, Woods and Johnson.