CHARLOTTE, N.C. – All-CIAA guard Chris Jordan scored 20 points, including eight in the final 1:28, as top-seed Saint Augustine’s College rallied past No. 7 seed Elizabeth City State University 63-59 Saturday to win the CIAA men’s basketball championship at Time Warner Cable Arena.
The Falcons (26-4 overall) won their second CIAA crown and the first since 1997. They also set a modern school single-season mark for victories.
“I told them after the game how proud I am of them,” said Falcons Head Coach Lonnie Blow, Jr. “They put their stamp on the basketball program. I told them they are champions for life. Nobody can take that away from them.”
Blow, the 2010 CIAA men’s basketball coach of the year, led the Falcons to the crown in only his second season at Saint Augustine’s College. A team featuring six seniors, the Falcons blew away the competition in the first two tournament games, winning by an average of 22.5 points. But the Vikings, playing without All-CIAA player Marquie Cook were formidable opponents.
The Vikings, who were seeded seventh when they captured the CIAA title in 2007, led 41-34 with 12:24 remaining in the game on a layup by Blake Price, a speedy point guard who scored a team-high 14 points.
With the crowd at Time Warner Cable Arena sensing an upset, the Falcons roared back to tie the score 51-51 on a layup by All-CIAA forward Hayward Fain, a versatile player who finished eight points, 12 rebounds and six blocks.
After tying the game, the Falcons outscored the Vikings 12-8 in the final 3:43 to claim the championship. Jordan, the tournament MVP, scored eight points during the stretch including a two-handed dunk for a 63-53 lead with 30 seconds left.
The Falcons beat the Vikings in the paint to gut out the victory. They held a 42-28 rebounding edge including 15-9 in offensive rebounds. Fain led the Falcons in rebounding but forward Kalvin Patterson added six rebounds and guards Jordan and Brandon Hickson contributed five rebounds each. The Falcons also scored 40 points in the paint, led by Patterson’s 11 points.
The Falcons failed to make a three-pointer for the first time this season, but outshot the Vikings overall 44 percent to 39 percent.
“We did not play particularly well, but it is all about surviving and advancing,” Blow said. “We got off to a slow start but we got in rhythm late and were able to execute.”
Steven Brignol chipped in eight points and Shaun Washum added six points for the Falcons. Quintin Spady scored 13 and Angelo Sharpless added 12 for the Vikings, who have seven freshmen.
Coach Blow and his six seniors – Jordan, Brignol, Fain, George DeGroat Patterson and Hickson – will lead the Falcons to the NCAA Division II playoffs, starting with the regionals on March 13. They will find out who their opponent is when the selections are announced March 7.
“Hopefully, we will get a good draw,” Blow said. “But we are a good road team. We are not afraid to play anywhere.”
Jordan and Fain were named to the All-Tournament team.