Virginia Union Upset Fayetteville State in the CIAA Women’s Tournament Championship Game
By TAHIRAH FARRER-BRADLEY
Virginia Union University’s women’s basketball team defended their CIAA title with a 74 to 41 victory over Fayetteville State University. One would imagine that a championship game between two number one teams would be much closer, and by the end of the first quarter it was, with FSU leading VUU 8 to 7. However, by halftime, any hope of the Lady Broncos winning seemed bleak as they only scored 5 points to the Lady Panthers’ 33. The result was a 13-40 deficit for the Lady Broncos.
With two quarters left to play, FSU still had a chance to clinch the title if during halftime they had come up with a game plan to contain VUU’s star sophomore guard Shareka McNeill. Shareka and her twin sister Shameka, who also plays for the Lady Panthers, graduated from Charlotte’s Harry P. Harding University High School. In the first quarter, Shareka was the lone scorer for the Lady Panthers, and by the end of the second quarter she had a total of 30 points. Shareka didn’t appear to have only been in her second season as a collegiate athlete, she played like a seasoned veteran with her eyes focused on the prize. In addition to her phenomenal scoring, Shareka grabbed 3 rebounds in the first half. To put it simply, the first half was a Shareka clinic.
The Lady Broncos were able to contain Shareka to four points and one rebound in the third quarter; however, they had no answer for VUU’s redshirt senior forward, Jasmine Carter, who racked up 11 points and 3 rebounds for the Lady Panthers. By the end of the third quarter FSU was down 28-59. The first three quarters for the Lady Broncos could be described by lackluster play, turnovers, and unnecessary fouls. That’s not to take anything away from the Lady Panthers, it was clear that VUU’s stars were a force to be reckoned with.
Unfortunately for the Lady Broncos, nothing changed in their play in the fourth quarter. Ultimately, Shareka McNeill would not be stopped in front of her home crowd. Shareka scored another three points for the Lady Panthers, and with the help of Jasmine Carter scoring another 7, VUU was able to hoist the CIAA Tournament Championship Trophy for the second consecutive year. Shameka McNeill contributed too, scoring a total of 4 points and pulling down 5 rebounds.
Although the hometown favorite, Shareka McNeill, did not win the game MVP, she did win CIAA Tournament MVP and made Coca-Cola’s All-Tournament Team. For the game, MVP honors went to Jasmine Carter who ended the game with a double-double, scoring 18 points and collecting 14 rebounds. Charlotte’s Shareka McNeill ended the game with 37 points and 5 rebounds.
It will be interesting to see what next year’s CIAA Basketball Tournament has in store for the McNeill twins. Shareka and Shameka will be juniors and it will be their last year playing the tournament at home. If this year’s tournament is any indication, they will be eager to win in front of their home crowd one last time.