Feb 23, 2013
A strong second half lifted the Shaw University Bears to their third straight victory as they defeated Johnson C. Smith 74-65 in a game played on Saturday afternoon at Southeast Raleigh High School.
After trailing by nine at halftime, the Bears outscored the Golden Bulls 41-23 in the second half to close out the regular season with a record of 16-10 overall, 10-6 in the CIAA and 4-6 in the Southern Division. With the loss, Johnson C. Smith falls to 16-10 overall, 9-7 in the CIAA and 5-5 in the Southern Division.
The Bears have won three straight games for the first time since January when they won eight straight. After their eight-game winning streak, the Bears dropped six of seven, forcing the players and coaches to have several meetings to figure out what’s been going wrong.
“We had a couple of meetings with the players and discussed the small things like boxing out, closing out, diving on the floor for loose balls and we kind of went for it at that point,” said Shaw head coach Cleo Hill, Jr. “Our guys have bought in and we’ve started playing a lot better.”
The Bears were led by a trio of players in double figures with Latrail McCoy leading the way with 18 points and six assists. Andre Paulk scored 15 points off the bench while Taurus Dortch contributed 14 in the victory.
Both teams shot the ball very well in the game. The Bears were 29-of-54 from the floor for 53.7 percent. In contrast, Johnson C. Smith was 24-of-47 from the floor for a 51.7 percent rate. After shooting 58 percent in the first half, Shaw’s defense forced the Golden Bulls to hit just 10 shots in the second half.
“Sometimes basketball is about positive energy,” said Hill. “We found a group that is just going to be concerned about that. Guys like Taurus and Andre are players that are concerned about giving us some energy. Then we have guys that play offense really well, like Latrail, who do their jobs well.”
The Golden Bulls got off to a 4-0 start early in the game before the Bears came roaring back with a 7-1 run. Dortch buried a jumper at the 15:45 mark of the first half to give the Bears a 7-5 lead.
Johnson C. Smith answered with a 12-1 run over the next two-plus minutes to build a 17-8 lead after a three-pointer from Joshua Linson with 13:27 left in the frame.
McCoy ended the drought for the Bears as he drilled a three-pointer of his own from the left corner 21 seconds later, bringing Shaw within six at 17-11.
A three-pointer by Trevin Parks, who pulled up from the top of the key, put the Golden Bulls up 20-11 with 12:57 remaining in the first half.
The Golden Bulls built a 10-point lead (21-11) after JCSU’s Antwan Wilkerson converted a layup at the 12:03 mark. Wilkerson buried a free throw with 10:59 remaining to put Johnson C. Smith up by 11.
Keenan Harper’s tip-in cut Shaw’s deficit to nine at 22-13. Parks pushed JCSU’s lead to 12 when he buried a three-pointer from the left corner.
For the next few possessions, both teams traded baskets. A jumper by Trevin Parks at the 9:01 mark gave JCSU a 29-17 lead. The Bears scored five straight points thanks to a three-pointer from McCoy and a pair of free throws from Harper, which made the score 29-22 with 8:05 remaining in the period.
The Golden Bulls extended their lead back to 11 after scoring four straight points. After Shawn Stanislaus’ layup, Johnson C. Smith held a 33-22 lead with 6:58 remaining.
The Bears responded with an 8-2 run to get within five. The points came as a result of a layup and a three-pointer from Curtis Hines along with a three-pointer from McCoy, which made the score 35-30 with 4:13 remaining.
Johnson C. Smith closed out the remaining minutes of first half on a 7-3 run to build a 42-33 lead at halftime.
The Bears cut their deficit to seven when Mohammed Abdur-Rahim hit a layup five seconds into the second half, making the score 42-35. At the 19:40 mark, JCSU’s Emilio Parks put the Golden Bulls back up by nine after converting a layup.
The Golden Bulls built a 48-37 lead after a pair of Trevin Parks free throws with 16:34 remaining, the Bears responded with a 8-0 spurt over the next two-plus to pull within three. Paulk’s layup trimmed Shaw’s deficit to 48-45 at the 14-minute mark.
A layup from Dortch extended Shaw’s run to 10-0. McCoy grabbed a rebound and drove the length of the floor before finding Dortch under the basket for the easy bucket, which cut Shaw’s deficit to one at 48-47 with 12:28 remaining.
Trevin Parks missed a layup on the other end and the rebound was secured by Harper. McCoy drove the lane and extended Shaw’s run to 12-0 when he buried a falling jumper at the 11:39 mark. The shot gave the Bears the 49-48 advantage, which was their first lead since early in the first half.
Trevin Parks hit 1-of-2 from the free throw line to tie the contest. On the other end, Derrick Hunter tipped in Dortch’s missed jumper to put Shaw up 51-49.
Back-to-back layups from Emilio Parks put Johnson C. Smith up 53-51 at the 8:44 mark.
The Bears responded with two straight buckets from Keith Mitchell, which gave them a 55-53 lead. After Linson missed a three-pointer, Paulk snagged the board and drove the length of the floor to give Shaw a 57-53 lead with 7:32 remaining.
Johnson C. Smith cut it to two when Robert Williams converted a layup, making it 57-55 with 7:07 remaining in the game.
A three-pointer by Mitchell and a layup by McCoy sparked a 5-0 run by the Bears, which gave them a 62-55 edge.
Emilio Parks made it a five-point game when he hit a layup at the six-minute mark to bring the Golden Bulls within five.
The score remained 62-57 until the 5:09 mark when Paulk sank 1-of-2 free throws to put Shaw in front by six.
The Golden Bulls scored four straight points to get within two. The Bears answered with four straight points of their own- two layups from McCoy and Dortch - which put Shaw back up by six at 67-61.
Paulk’s layup with 1:17 remaining put the Bears up by eight. After a missed three-pointer by Wilkerson, Paulk secured the loose ball and found Dortch, who was immediately fouled at midcourt.
Dortch made 1-of-2 free throws to put the Bears up by nine at 70-61 with 58 seconds remaining. Sixteen seconds later, Trevin Parks brought the Golden Bulls within seven after converting a layup.
McCoy sank a pair of free throws to put Shaw up 72-63 with 39 seconds left.
After a Wilkerson layup to bring JCSU within seven, Dortch sank two more free throws to put Shaw up 74-65. A missed three-pointer by Linson with 17 seconds remaining fell into Paulk’s hands.
The Bears held onto the ball to run out the clock as they celebrated the victory.
Johnson C. Smith was led by Wilkerson, who had a game-high 21 points. Emilio Parks added 16 while Trevin Parks contributed 15.
The CIAA Tournament begins on Tuesday afternoon at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte. The Bears are hoping to carry this late momentum with them into the start of the tournament.
“We are going in playing how we want to play,” said Hill. “Sometimes that’s half the battle. I don’t know if we are peaking, but we are playing well right now.”