HomeBasketball TodayWinston-Salem reigns supreme over Virginia Union in electrifying NBA HBCU Classic showdown

Winston-Salem reigns supreme over Virginia Union in electrifying NBA HBCU Classic showdown

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The CIAA Tournament takes place for both the men’s and women’s teams next week between Feb. 25 and March 2 in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Winston-Salem State Rams and Virginia Union Panthers clashed for a CIAA showdown in the NBA HBCU Classic during All-Star Weekend. The Rams cruised to a smooth 64-47 victory over their conference opponent in a game that was televised nationally on TNT.

The Rams were coming off two huge victories against Claflin and Fayetteville State as they fight for the top seed in the CIAA Southern Division. They desperately needed the wins to solidify themselves as a contender for the conference championship and to gain ground on the two teams ahead of them. The triumph over Virginia Union gives Winston-Salem their third straight win as they close in on the tournament in Baltimore.

On the other hand, the Virginia Union Panthers have been on a bit of a skid. Unlike Winston-Salem, who boasts an 11-5 conference record, the Panthers currently sit at 6-9 in the CIAA after the loss today. They’re in danger of losing their second seed in the SIAA Northern Division Virginia State and Elizabeth City State. The Rams gave Virginia Union their third straight loss as they try to right the ship before the tournament.

The game opened with a sparkling rendition of the national anthem by Grammy-award winning musical artist Coco Jones. The excitement spilled over into the game as the Rams and Panthers jockeyed for the lead early in the first half. Winston-Salem got off to the early 6-0 start, but both teams struggled to score.

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Finally, after nearly six minutes of play, Virginia Union’s Kaylen Vines put his team on the board with a three-pointer. Winston-Salem’s Jaylin Parker returned fire with a three of his own, which seemed to kick start both team’s offenses. They continued to trade buckets as the lead switched hands between schools. In the last three minutes of the first half, Winston-Salem hunkered down on defense, keeping the Panthers from scoring a single point. During that span, the Rams went on a 12-0 run, spurred by consecutive three-pointers from Ketron Shawn. Parker closed the half in the final seconds with a three of his own, giving Winston-Salem the 33-24 edge going into the break.

Coming out of halftime, Virginia Union tried to make a run at the lead, but Winston-Salem quickly rebuffed them. Tahj Harding hit a tough fadeaway jumper to start a mini 4-0 push to bring the game within five points. Harding’s efforts, however, proved futile, as the Rams went on a 13-0 run to establish a commanding 46-32 lead. Later, an and-one layup from Jonathan Salazar helped cut the lead to single digits, but another 13-0 run crushed Virginia Union’s prospects of coming back. The referees rewarded Panther Travis Vaughn with a three-pointer at the end due to a goaltending call, cutting the final score to 64-47.

The Virginia Union Panthers struggled to find a consistent scoring option throughout the game. Nine of their 14 players scored at least two points, but only Tahj Harding finished in double-digits. Harding scored 11 points on 11 shots and two made free throws. He also had two assists and two blocks. Travis Vaughn made three of five three-point attempts for nine points, three assists, and two rebounds. Kaylen Vines went 3-3 from the floor, finishing with seven points, two rebounds, and two assists.

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While Virginia Union couldn’t find much offensive production, the Winston-Salem State Rams overflowed with it. Four of their six active players ended the game with 11 points or more. Ketron Shaw led all players with 15 points, four rebounds, and three assists. Jaylen Alston recorded a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds, as well as three assists and three steals. Isaac Parson and Jaylin Parker went a combined 5-12 from long range and ended with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Parson also had a double-double as he finished with 11 assists.

Both teams have two games before the end of the regular season. Virginia Union heads to North Carolina to take on Elizabeth City State before ending the year on the road at Virginia State. Winston-Salem State also finishes their season on the road with games at Shaw and Livingstone.

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