By Ja-Shawn Steward-Johnson -
The Fayetteville State men’s basketball team outlasted Chowan 72-71, to open CIAA conference play on a winning note.
Tonight’s game was as exciting as college basketball can get. In a game featuring six (6) lead changes and three (3) tied scores, with FSU taking the final lead within the last two minutes, Chowan’s Tim Hewett missed a 15-foot jumper at the buzzer that would have won the game for the Hawks.
Chowan (4-6 overall, 0-2 CIAA) led 39-34 at halftime.
The FSU Broncos (4-6 overall, 1-0 CIAA) shot 47% in field goals over the Hawks 41%. Fayetteville State was faster and more aggressive, especially in transition, as the Broncos had ten (10) fast breaks to the Hawks’ zero (0). FSU had 14 bench points compared to just one (1) for Chowan.
Josh Bryant (Fayetteville, NC) had 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting. Bryant was one point shy of tying his season high of 27. Javen McNeill (West End, NC) had a double-double 10 points and 11 rebounds. Josh Smith (Fayetteville, NC) shot 12 points from behind the arc.
Hewett had 25 points as four (4) Chowan players scored in double digits. Robert Grubbs had 16 points from three-pointers. Dino Muminovic and Trevis Buckhanon had 13 each.
With the Hawks up 67-63 with less than four minutes to go, the Broncos had a game-changing possession that featured a huge dunk by McNeill. On the next possession, Willie Gilmore (Fayetteville, NC) fed McNeill for another dunk to tie the game at 67.
A few seconds later, Bryant stole the Hawks’ inbound pass and scored another basket and a free throw (on a three-point play) to give the Broncos its first lead, 70-67, with two minutes left.
Hewett made two free throws to cut the lead down to one.
With 11 seconds left, Hewett raced down the court for the Hawks and put up a jumper with Hosch defending. The shot rimmed out as time expired.
Fayetteville State, down five (5) after intermission, saw Bryant hit two consecutive layups to cut the lead to 38-39. The Broncos took a 43-42 lead since the first three (3) minutes of the game. Two (2) consecutive three-pointers by Smith kick-started a 12-2 run that saw FSU extend their lead to 58-50. However, the Hawks responded with a huge 15-2 run that returned a five-point lead to Chowan.
The Broncos’ defense made a huge impact in the second half holding Chowan to 35% shooting. Fayetteville State made 52% of its shots in the second half.
The Broncos also held Hewett in check. Although he had 18 points (8-10 from the field) in the first half, he finished with six (6) points (1-for-6) in the second.
Chowan shot 6-of-12 (50%) in three-pointers in the first half but was held to 2-of-9 (22%) in the second half.
Fayetteville State hosts Virginia State on Saturday, December 16th at 4 p.m.
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