Feb. 20, 2010
Knocking off Eastern Division Champion Virginia State did more than just give four Fayetteville State seniors a win in their final home game.
The Broncos' 84-73 victory also gave Eva Patterson-Heath's team momentum heading into next week's CIAA tournament.
"I felt like we were the best in the CIAA," Patterson-Heath said. "But all season long there were some obstacles that we allowed to put us on a detour. Before the game, I challenged them to give us the very best they had on the court."
Senior guard Danielle Russell scored 18 of her season-high 26 points in the second half. Despite leading the conference in assists per game this season, Russell wasn't named to the All-CIAA team when it was announced on Friday.
"Maybe that was her way of saying `you should've taken a look at me,'" said Patterson-Heath. "She's our point guard and our offense runs through her."
A native of Wilmington, N.C., Russell made 7-of-8 3-pointers.
"We just needed to win tonight," she said. "Every shot I threw up I made. I just felt it."
FSU (17-9, 13-7 CIAA, 7-3 Western Division) held the Trojans (21-5, 16-4, 8-0) to 34.5 percent shooting from the field. In its last 19 games, the Broncos have allowed only one team to shoot 40 percent or better.
The Broncos forced 22 VSU turnovers and turned them into 24 points.
"Normally teams that press don't like to be pressed," said Patterson-Heath. "We knew that we had to change the tempo of the game and our press was that. It worked effectively."
L'Oreal Price had 10 points, six assists and five rebounds for FSU while 2010 All-CIAA team member Tiffany Haywood added 16 points and six rebounds.
"This gives us a lot of momentum going into the tournament," Haywood said. "This gets us ready for the big games."
The pairings for the CIAA tournament will be released on Sunday. To be successful in the tournament, Patterson-Heath said she knows what her team must do.
"We have to be able to take care of the basketball," she said. "All season long we've been plagued by turnovers. We have to defend, rebound and take care of the basketball."
VSU's Betty Appiah scored a career-high 24 points and pulled down 14 rebounds.
FSU finished the season 12-2 inside Capel Arena. At halftime, FSU led 34-31. The Broncos trailed by as much seven in the first half and limited VSU to 38.5 percent shooting from the field.