Winston-Salem State Rams Defeat the Fayetteville State Broncos in a Historic CIAA Championship Game

Robert Colon Presented with CIAA MVP Trophy
Robert Colon presented with CIAA Tournament MVP Trophy


March 11, 2020 1:36PM
Tahirah Farrer-Bradley
Tahirah Farrer-Bradley

CHARLOTTE, NC - It has been three quarters of a century since the first CIAA tournament (1946-2020). This year also makes the 15th consecutive year the tournament has been held in Charlotte, North Carolina. As the tournament heads to Baltimore, Maryland for the next three years, this was the last opportunity for the athletes to win a championship in the state that many of them call home. This sentiment was expressed by Winston-Salem State’s senior guard, Robert Colon (#1), during a post-game interview after winning their semi-final game against Claflin University. Colon said he was focused on winning the championship game here in Charlotte in honor of his late grandfather who was from the Queen City. Robert ended the semi-final game against Claflin with 19 of WSSU’s 58 points. It’s safe to say that all eyes were on #1 headed into the championship game.

The WSSU Rams got off to a slow start against FSU’s Broncos. After several minutes of play, the Broncos had held the Rams to only 2 points while they had effortlessly scored a dozen. Back-to-back threes from WSSU’s Dontae Caldwell and Justice Kithcart got the Rams in the game. Robert Colon had been quiet on the scoring front but stayed active and made his presence felt by drawing fouls. Finally, just inside the 5-minute mark, Colon gets on the board with a 2-point shot. Roughly a minute later he followed that with a 3-pointer. While the Broncos held Colon to only 7-points in the first half, WSSU’s sophomores kept them in contention. Forward Xavier Fennell contributed with a 100% field goal percentage, while guard Jaylen Alston hustled on both ends of the court. The half ended with Fayetteville State up 28-25.

With another half to play, the game was still too close to call, but the momentum going into half-time still leaned toward Fayetteville State as they had held the lead for the large majority of the first half. A key to this was keeping Winston’s star guard at bay. Would Colon fight to win a championship in the city his grandfather called home, or would FSU thwart his efforts?
FSU posts the first point of the second half with a free throw by #45, Will Brown. After two-and-a-half minutes, Robert Colon, makes two free throws to bring the score to 29-27 in favor of FSU. Colon makes his second and final three pointer of the game; however, Denzell Hosch responds with a three pointer of his own to tie the game at 36. Hosch makes his third and final three pointer of the game, and the game appeared to be slipping away from the Rams after FSU went on a 16 to 7 run to lead 52-43. Colon, however, did not appear to be dismayed. He ran down the court after Hosch’s three and made a three-point play after being fouled. Hosch continued to come up big for FSU, but that didn’t deter Colon and Alston. They hustled on both ends of the floor to cut FSU’s lead to three, 60-57. There was finally light at the end of the tunnel for the Rams.

In a historic weekend centered around time, the last several seconds of this game will be just as memorable and noteworthy as 75 years and 15 years. Robert Colon was fouled at the 15.2 second mark, he made one out of two free throws bringing the score to 62-60 in favor of FSU. Colon was fouled again, this time while attempting a three with 4.6 seconds left in the game. He made the first two free throws, tying the game at 62, before FSU called a timeout. Colon came back and made his final free throw to put WSSU in the lead. With a one-point lead, and mere seconds left on the clock, FSU would have the last shot and a chance to win the championship. FSU’s junior guard, Jalen Spicer, was able to get down the court and get a shot off. Unfortunately for FSU, Spicer missed, and the buzzer sounded almost immediately after the ball hit the rim.

Not only is Robert Colon a star athlete, he is also a true sportsman. After Jalen missed the final shot of the game, he was kneeling on the court, visibly upset at the outcome of the game. Colon went over to Jalen to pat him on the back.

WSSU won this game because they played with incredible heart. The contributions of Xavier Fennell with a 100% field goal percentage, Jonathan Hicklin making 5 out of 6 free throws, and Jaylen Alston and Mason Harrell rebounding and hustling on both ends of the court cannot go without mention.

Colon ended the game with 25-points, winning both the Coca-Cola Tournament MVP and Food Lion MVP of the game. He achieved his goal of winning in Charlotte, and I’m sure his grandfather is proud.