CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Virginia Union University women’s basketball team persevered through an early deficit to earn a 73-53 win over Bowie State University on Wednesday morning in Time Warner Cable Arena. The Lady Bulldogs entered the game as the second seed out of the Northern Division with the Lady Panthers as the third seed from the North.
“We asked our team to work hard today. When you work hard, you have fun. When you have fun, you can play with the energy that’s hard for the other team to match,” stated Lady Panthers head coach Barvenia Wooten-Cherry.
Virginia Union advances with an 11-15 record and will take on the winner of Wednesday’s 2:40 p.m. contest between Fayetteville State and Johnson C. Smith. Bowie State ends their season with an 11-14 record.
Ashle Freeman led all players in the contest with 25 points in the win for Virginia Union. Melyse Brown added 20 points while Jasmin Dancy chipped in 13 points to guide the team to victory. Donia Naylor paced Bowie State with 20 points in the loss. She also grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds (three offensive, 14 defensive).
“Virginia Union is a good ball club and they were more disciplined down the stretch than we were,” stated Bowie State head coach Renard Smith.
Naylor opened up the contest with a jumper and Moriah Goodman followed with a bucket to give the Lady Bulldogs a 4-0 lead early in the contest. Brown put the Lady Panthers on the board with a score of her own at the 17:36 mark. Uchechi Ahaiwe completed the three-point play for the Lady Bulldogs to push Bowie State’s lead to 7-2.
Freeman responded with a layup for Virginia Union to make the score 7-2 at the first media timeout. A 3-0 run by the Lady Panthers made it a two-point game with 13:48 on the clock.
Both teams exchanged baskets over the next three minutes of play until a jump shot by Dancy for the Lady Panthers put Virginia Union within one point (10-9). Bowie State held on to a one point lead (12-11) heading into the second media time out of the contest. Ashley Castle gave the Lady Bulldogs some cushion with a layup at the 7:02 mark.
With 5:31 left before halftime, Shahadah Barret hit a free throw and Lady Walker grabbed a rebound and put-back to give the Lady Panthers a 15-14 lead, their first of the game.
Down 18-17 with 3:49 left before halftime, Alessandra Flores drove to the basket for a score for Bowie State, returning the lead to the Lady Bulldogs. From there, Bowie State remained on top and held on to a 24-23 advantage heading into halftime.
Naylor’s layup at the start of the second half put the Lady Bulldogs ahead 26-23. Virginia Union resiliently battled back using a 4-1 run to knot the score 27-27 with 18:29 left in the game.
The Lady Panthers and Lady Bulldogs traded leads over the next three minutes until a three-pointer by Freeman swung the momentum back to Virginia Union.
Holding a 34-32 advantage, the Lady Panthers clung tightly to the lead. Bowie State refused to go away quietly and remained close on Virginia Union’s heels, never trailing by more than six points until the 4:53 mark. Brown went to work at that point, draining two free throws and scoring two baskets to build the Lady Panther lead to 58-48 with 3:29 on the clock.
Virginia Union led by as many as 16 points (66-50) as late as the 1:22 mark before closing out the contest with the 73-53 victory.