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Joshua Dawson’s 3-point bombs get Fayetteville State into CIAA men’s final

Hometown Johnson C. Smith women will play Virgina State in title game Saturday afternoon

Fayetteville State senior point guard Joshua Dawson flashed his NBA pedigree Friday night at the CIAA men’s basketball tournament in Charlotte, North Carolina, pouring in 18 points in the final four minutes – after the Broncos had trailed by nine in the second half – to help No. 4 seed Fayetteville State pull off a 70-61 upset of top-seeded defending champion Virginia State.

Fayetteville (13-15) advances to face Bowie State in Saturday’s 7 p.m. final at the Spectrum Center. It will be shown live on ESPN3 and ESPNU on tape delay at 10 p.m.

The barrage by Dawson included four NBA-distance 3-pointers.

It wasn’t a total one-man show, as Dawson’s former Kinston High teammate Michael Tyson contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds to collect three consecutive double-doubles in this week’s tournament. The two are former teammates of Los Angeles Lakers swingman Brandon Ingram, and Dawson is the nephew of former NBA stars Jerry Stackhouse and Craig Dawson.

Dawson sent the crowd into a frenzy with back-to-back 3-pointers for a 56-54 Broncos’ lead with 2:16 to play. He added another long 3-pointer with 1:30 to play to build the lead to 61-54.

Asked to name the offensive set that morphed him into superstar mode, Dawson said: “It’s called, ‘Coach said score the ball.’ ” Dawson also gave a nod to his teammates, particularly Tyson and freshman guard Josh Bryant.

Still, many people saw the display the same way as Virginia State coach Lonnie Blow, whose team is hanging onto slim hopes of getting a Division II regional bid.

“Sometimes you have to tip your hat to the other guys,” Blow said. “That kid is a winner. He made huge plays – as he always has in this league – to kind of put them on his back a little bit down the stretch.”

In the earlier men’s semifinal, Bowie State (15-14) edged Livingstone (11-17) by the score of 71-69, ending the Blue Bears string of getting to the CIAA championship game in four of the last five years.

“This is unfamiliar territory for us,” coach Livingstone coach James Stinson said. “But we have to accept it. It was a good run. That was a blessing in itself.”

Michael Briscoe led Bowie State with 24 points, and six steals that contributed to 30 Livingstone turners.

Hometown women advance

In the women’s last semifinal of the night, Johnson C. Smith upset defending CIAA champion and 2016 Elite 8 participant Virginia Union 81-75, avenging two regular-season losses to the Panthers.

Blaire Thomas and Monique Hall led all scorers with 18 points to help a North Carolina-based team beat an out-of-state team – men’s or women’s – for the first time all week.

Johnson C. Smith (21-7) will play Virginia State (22-7) in Saturday’s 4 p.m. final.

Rachael Pecota led Virginia Union (23-4) with 16 points.

Johnson C. Smith coach Stephen Joyner Jr., whose men’s team was eliminated Wednesday, said he knew he had to pull off a victory for the campus community. The school is located about five blocks from Spectrum Center.

“It definitely felt great to get over that hump – to Saturday – but the job is not done,” said Joyner, who will coach in his first CIAA tournament final.

His father, Stephen Joyner Sr., has won three CIAA championships as coach of the men’s team at Johnson C. Smith, and his first cousin, Ed Joyner Jr., has won three Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference women’s titles at Hampton.

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.