CHARLOTTE, NC (WWBT) - Virginia Union made a furious rally, but it came one point short in the CIAA quarterfinals. Winston-Salem hung on to hold off Virginia Union, 56-55, on Thursday in the Time Warner Cable Arena, ending the Panthers season.
Winston-Salem State advances to Friday's semifinal game where it will meet the winner of Shaw/Fayetteville at 9 p.m. The Rams were swept by Shaw (76-60 on Feb. 11 and 80-59 on Feb. 20) and split the season series with Fayetteville State with a 58-54 victory on Jan. 21 and dropped a 64-54 decision nearly a week ago.
Justin Glover led the Rams (19-8) with 14 points, four rebounds and one assist. Chris Witherspoon added 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting as Winston-Salem State, which defeated Virginia Union, 67-66, on Jan. 7, shot 47 percent (22-of-47) from the floor.
The Rams raced out to an 11-5 lead after a Justin Glover layup with 15:45 remaining in the opening half, but the Panthers quickly responded and used a 14-3 run during six minutes, capped by a Juan Wilson jumper with 9:07 left.
Just as quickly as Virginia Union took the lead, Winston-Salem State answered in a big way. The Rams scored seven of the next nine points as Witherspoon sank a 3-pointer from the right corner to tie the game at 21 with 6:05 remaining.
In the final six minutes of the half, neither team had a lead larger than two points as Witherspoon's three from the left corner gave the Rams a 30-28 advantage with 1:04 remaining, but Calvin Brown sank a jumper with 39 seconds left as the two teams went into the break tied at 30.
During a seven-minute stretch in the second half, Virginia Union went cold from the floor and Winston-Salem State took advantage.
The Rams took a two-point deficit and turned it into a 13-point lead with a 15-0 run, capped by a Wykevin Bazemore three-point play to give Winston-Salem State a 48-35 advantage with 9:16 left.
Baskets by Wesley Simmons and Marcel Crump cut the Rams lead to 48-39 with 8:23 remaining. Those buckets started a 5-0 spurt to close the gap to 48-42, but back came the Winston-Salem State as Justin Glover and Bazemore scored on back-to-back trips down the floor to push the advantage to 52-42 with a little more than five minutes left.
The Panthers (15-14) climbed out of the big deficit with a 9-0 run, capped by Jamaal Blalock 3-pointer to close the margin to 52-51 with 1:30 remaining. Free throws by Joseph Thompson with 1:07 left gave Winston-Salem State a 54-51 lead, but a putback by Juan Richards with 51 seconds remaining kept the game within reach at 54-53.
A layup by Glover gave the Rams a small cushion at 56-53 with 25 seconds remaining, but again the Panthers refused to give up as Richards scored on a layup and was fouled by Thompson with 10.8 seconds left. He missed a chance at the three-point play.
However, Kimani Hunt was whistled for traveling and turned the ball back over to Virginia Union with 10.4 seconds remaining.
After a timeout by the Panthers, Virginia Union couldn't get off the potential game-winning shot as Winston-Salem State escaped with the win.
Richards paced the Panthers with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting. He also pulled down a game-high eight rebounds and blocked one shot. Simmons, Blalock and Crump each had eight points as Virginia Union was 24-of-57 shooting for 42 percent.