CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Amber Calvin scored 19 points to lead Fayetteville State University to its second straight CIAA Tournament championship game. The Lady Broncos came out with a 64-57 women’s basketball semi-final victory over Virginia Union University at Time Warner Cable Arena on Friday.
The Lady Broncos (21-6) will play in the finals on Saturday at 5 p.m. The Southern Division champions are shooting for their fourth CIAA title and first since 2010.
Akysia Resper added 14 points and Je’lena Robertson chipped in 12 points for the Lady Broncos, who made 16-of-19 free-throws for 84 percent. They knocked down 6-of-6 free-throws in the final minute to hold off the pesky Lady Panthers, who struggled at the free-throw line. The third seed from the Northern Division, the Lady Panthers were 13-of-31 from the charity stripe for 42 percent.
“In close games, it is going to come down to rebounding and free-throws,” Fayetteville State Head Coach Eva Patterson-Heath said. “Fortunately, we hit our free-throws.”
The quintet of Robertson, Calvin, Resper, Deja Middleton and Bria Robinson combined to make 16-of-16 free-throws with Robertson hitting 6-of-6. Her two free-throws with four seconds left iced the game for the Lady Broncos.
Missed free-throws prevented the Lady Panthers from catching the Lady Broncos. Down 58-49 with 4:03 left, the Lady Panthers were 2-for-10 down the stretch. Despite the missed free-throws, the Lady Panthers still had a shot when Melyse Brown drilled a three-pointer from the corner to pull within 60-57 with 35.4 seconds remaining. The Lady Broncos sealed the win on two free-throws a piece by Middleton and Robertson in the final 17.6 seconds.
“Free-throws were the issue today,” Virginia Union Head Coach Barvenia Wooten-Cherry said. “We missed a lot of free-throws.”
Brown paced the Lady Panthers (11-16 overall) with 16 points. The trio of Ashle Freeman, Lady Walker and Jasmin Dancy each scored 11 points. Walker pulled down 13 rebounds for a double-double and Freeman had four assists and four steals. She set the school record for steals in the contest.
Trailing by two at half-time, the Lady Panthers jumped out to a 37-31 lead in the second half. The Lady Broncos gained momentum with a 19-3 run to go up 50-40. Calvin scored eight points and Resper added seven points during the spurt, including a three-pointer for a 40-39 Lady Broncos lead.
The Lady Panthers stayed in striking distance by controlling the boards. They out-rebounded the Lady Broncos 47-30 overall, which led to a 34-26 scoring advantage in the paint and a 13-4 edge in second-chance points in the game. The free-throw shooting accuracy of the Lady Broncos prevented the Lady Panthers from making a comeback.