CHARLOTTE, N.C. — All-CIAA center from Fayetteville State University, Deja Middleton, had 18 points and 17 rebounds, and led four players in double figures in the win against Johnson C. Smith. The final score was 70-47 for the CIAA women’s quarterfinal basketball victory at Time Warner Cable Arena today.
The Lady Broncos, the Southern Division’s top seed, head to the semi-finals to play Virginia Union, the number three Northern Division seed, at 3 p.m. on Friday, February 28. The Golden Bulls, the number five Southern Division seed, ended their season at 14-13 overall. Akysia Resper added 16 points, Amber Calvin added 14 points and JeLena Robertson scored 10 points for the Lady Broncos (20-6 overall). Karnina Bunch scored 14 points for the Golden Bulls.
“I thought we came out focused from the beginning,” Fayetteville State Head Coach Eva Patterson-Heath said. “Johnson C. Smith is an excellent basketball team, a well-coached basketball team. Our student-athletes knew it was going to come down to our defensive effort today. We challenged the bench, the posts and the guards to give their best efforts. In tournament games, you never know what is going to happen and you need to be able to rely on everyone.”
In the first half, Calvin hit the second of back-to-back three-pointers to give the Lady Broncos a 9-7 lead. Her three-pointer ignited the Lady Broncos, who went on a 8-1 run for a 17-8 lead. A basket by Quinesha Lynch stopped the run and started a Golden Bulls’ run.
They climbed back within 17-13 while holding the Lady Broncos scoreless for five minutes. The drought ended when Resper scored a layup off her steal for a 19-13 lead. The lead reached 21-13 on a short bank shot by Middleton. Middleton scored again for a 23-17 lead, but Bunch scored on a driving bank shot to pull the Golden Bulls within four points. Calvin hit another three pointer right before the half for a 26-19 lead. Calvin led the Lady Broncos with 11 points in the first half. Bunch had seven points for the Golden Bulls.
Middleton had 11 points and 11 rebounds in the second half as the Lady Broncos turned the contest into a rout. The Lady Broncos outscored the Golden Bulls 44-28 in the second half to break open the contest after leading 26-19 at halftime.
The Lady Broncos started fast in the second half, scoring the first five points to open a 31-19 lead, which continued to climb to 16 points at 37-21 on a follow up shot by Middleton. Middleton scored again for a 46-29 lead with under 10 minutes to go. The Lady Broncos stretched the lead to 50-32 on a layup by Bria Robinson.
Calvin added two free throws and Resper scored on a layup after a Calvin steal for a 54-32 lead with 7:55 remaining. Middleton continued to dominate inside, scoring a layup for a 61-36 lead late in the contest. Resper added a jumper for a 27-point Lady Broncos’ lead.
“First and foremost, hats off to Fayetteville State,” Johnson C. Smith Head Coach Stephen Joyner, Jr., said. “They played a great game. Everybody on their team showed up. I have no problem losing a ball game as long as we fight but I’m disappointed because we did not do that. We’ve got to get more heart, more hustle, more effort. I know what this team is capable of and we came up way short. We’ve got to understand that we did not fight the way we’re capable of fighting in order to advance in the future. We will use this as motivation.”
The Lady Broncos shot 50 percent in the second half while the Golden Bulls struggled from the floor, making only 33 percent of their shots. For the contest, the Lady Broncos outshot the Golden Bulls 42 to 31 percent and won the rebounding battle 44-29, thanks to Middleton.