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Johnson C. Smith women, Bowie State men capture CIAA hoops titles

After a week of upsets, the champions were crowned and now they’re on the way to the Division II playoffs

After a week of upsets in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) basketball tournaments, both the men’s and women’s champions await word on where they will be playing in the NCAA Division II playoffs.

Charlotte, North Carolina-based Johnson C. Smith won the school’s first women’s title in eight years with a 68-59 victory over Virginia State in the CIAA championship Saturday.

The victory allowed Golden Bulls fourth-year coach Stephen Joyner Jr. to join his father, Stephen Joyner Sr., as the only father-son pair to win CIAA titles. Joyner Sr. has won three CIAA titles coaching the men, the last time in 2009 when Johnson C. Smith’s men and women cut down the nets.

“I can honestly say I got a monkey off my back,” Joyner Jr. said. “I felt the pressure of being a coach’s son; people say you have to get it right. I can finally say I have something to add to the Joyner legacy.”

Junior guard Asha Jordan had a team-high 21 points for the Golden Bulls (22-7), who led 33-25 at halftime and managed keep the lead rest of the way. Junior post player Blaire Thomas, an Iowa State transfer, added 14.

Nandi Taylor led all scorers with 28 points in a losing cause for the Trojans (22-8).

The difference this time was that Joyner used his bench to wear down the Trojans, who still have an outside chance of joining the Golden Bulls in two weeks in the NCAA Division II regional tournament.

“Like I’ve been saying all year, I think our depth really was the difference-maker,” said Joyner, whose bench outscored their opponents 42-14.

“I think they got tired later in the game.”

Joyner said he told his team that “if they commit, they could be successful.”

“That’s why we are sitting here today,” he said.

The Golden Bulls’ victory was the first win for a North Carolina school since the Livingstone men won in 2015 in Charlotte.

The appearance of two North Carolina teams on championship night – particularly with a hometown team playing – helped boost Saturday night attendance to beyond 6,000, according to media member estimates.

The CIAA did not provide officials attendance figures.

Bowie state Bulldogs take men’s title

Bowie State (16-14) led by as many as 10 in the second half, and held on for a 62-54 victory over Fayetteville State (13-16).

The Broncos cut the lead to three points with a late rally, and saw their dynamic point guard Joshua Dawson foul out with 2 1/2 minutes to play.

Dawson scored 28 points on Friday night, including 18 in the last four-plus minutes, to help the Broncos reach Saturday’s championship game.

Bowie State guard Ahmaad Wilson, who led the Bulldogs with 20 points, shared what was going through his mind when Dawson went to the bench after picking up an offensive foul for his fifth personal.

“Thank God,” Wilson said. He said he and his teammates tried to keep Dawson feeling uncomfortable. “We knew what moves he likes to make. I think that kind of got to him.”

It was a magical tournament run for the Broncos, who lost as many of five players and entered the tournament relying on some players who had seen limited action.

Freshman guard Josh Bryant led the Broncos with 14 points, with Michael Tyson adding 10 and Dawson 9.


David Squires is an educator and digital journalist who lives in the Charlotte area and teaches journalism at N.C. A&T State University in Greensboro. He has covered HBCU sports for several decades, first with the St. Petersburg Times and later as editor-in-chief of the original BlackVoices.com and BVQ magazine. He has also worked in news and sports in New York, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Fort Worth and Hampton Roads. His passion is college basketball, and he is a die-hard Tar Heel -- born and bred.