Feb. 6, 2012
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - Je'Lena Robertson didn't want a second chance. She already had that, and it had gotten way from her. She needed a third shot at redemption.
Thanks to Tashama Banner, and the most important - and improbable - rebound of her career, she got it.
Robertson made a foul shot with 2.5 seconds left to lift Fayetteville State to the biggest shocker in the CIAA this season as the Lady Broncos stunned previously league-unbeaten Johnson C. Smith 59-58 on Monday at Felton J. Capel Arena.
"Grace to God," said a breathless Robertson (So., Houston, Texas) following the victory. "I was just hoping for a third chance after I turned it over two times."
Robertson, listed at a generous 5-foot-7, grabbed an offensive rebound underneath the basket following a miss after Banner had come up with a steal in backcourt with under 10 seconds left. It was only Robertson' s second rebound of the game.
"Nobody should ever underestimate someone for how small they are," Robertson said. "That was the toughest box out of my life."
Fayetteville State (9-10, 3-7, 2-3) led the Golden Bulls for much of the game, getting a foul shot from Banner to cap a 12-3 run that handed the Lady Broncos their largest lead, 52-39, with 8:07 remaining.
But Johnson C. Smith (16-4, 10-1, 4-1), which had its 10-game winning streak snapped, came roaring back despite LaQwesha Gamble fighting through foul trouble. Gamble converted a three-point play and Terran Quattlebaum buried a 3-pointer to spark an 8-0 run and bring the Golden Bulls within one, 57-56, with 1:06 to go.
But Johnson C. Smith was hit for a technical foul for six players on the floor, allowing Robertson to give the Lady Broncos a 58-56 lead with 48 seconds left. Fayetteville State held possession after the technical, but Robertson misfired on a jump shot just 14 seconds into the shot clock, giving possession back to the Golden Bulls with 30 seconds to go.
Just 8 seconds later, the Golden Bulls' Shavonda Price was fouled, and she hit two foul shots to tie the game at 58, giving the Lady Broncos a chance to regain the lead. But Robertson, who saw a lane to the basket early in the possession, drove into the paint, only to have her runner hit hard off the rim with 14 seconds left, giving the ball back to Johnson C. Smith.
But the Golden Bulls didn't have it for long. Banner came up with a quick steal, setting up Robertson's heroics - and perhaps changing the course of the Lady Broncos' season.
"It's a win that validates everything we've been working on, and what we are capable of becoming," said Lady Broncos coach Eva Patterson-Heath.
Bouyed by their Southern Division victory over St. Augustine's on Saturday night, Fayetteville State came out firing in the first half against the league-unbeaten Lady Golden Bulls. Behind 11 points from Akysia Resper (So, Concord, N.C.), the Lady Broncos used a 15-5 run midway through the period to build a 21-13 lead with 9:08 to go in the period.
Johnson C. Smith managed to close within five points twice, but the Lady Broncos came right back, getting a pretty fullcourt pass from Resper to a streaking Alicia Person (So., Henderson, N.C.) for a layup and Fayetteville State's largest lead, 33-22, with 2:52 to go in the first half. It was only the third time this season that Johnson C. Smith trailed at the break.
The Lady Broncos had just four turnovers in the first half, shot 48 percent from the field and held the Lady Golden Bulls to just 31 percent shooting from the floor in the opening period. Johnson C. Smith was forced to play the last 16:15 of the first half without Gamble, who averages a double-double, after she was called for her second foul.
Resper led the Lady Broncos with 13 points while Makeea Suggs (Jr., Bethel, N.C.) added 10 points. Bria Robinson (Fr., Belmont, N.C.) chipped in nine points while Person had eight.
Price led all players with 22 points while April Smith added 13. Gamble was held to six points - eight below her average - though she finished with 12 rebounds to lead all players.
Fayetteville State travels to Virginia State on Thursday.