CHARLOTTE, NC – Fayetteville State handled Lincoln (Pa.) 60-46 in the CIAA Tournament Women’s basketball quarterfinals at Time Warner Cable Arena on Wednesday despite frigid shooting by both teams.
The Lady Broncos (23-4), ranked 22nd nationally in the USA Today Division II poll, breezed to Friday’s semifinals against Virginia Union because of their defense and free throw shooting. They scored 21 points off 22 turnovers by Lincoln (Pa.) which helped them overcome off shooting games by their top players. The Lady Broncos also was 23-for-32 at the charity stripe for 72 percent.
CIAA Player of the Year Kristen Hanzer (Sr., Youngsville, NC) scored 15 points but was 4-for-14 from the floor. She did add eight rebounds and two steals. Hanzer also hit 7-of-12 free throws.
“Most games we try to attack and get to the free-throw line,” said FSU Head Coach Eva Patterson-Heath, whose squad will face Virginia Union in Friday’s semifinals at 1 p.m. The Lady Broncos are the Southern Division champions and the top seed in their division.
Alicia Person (Sr., Henderson, NC) scored 12 points on 5-for-16 shooting and Akysia Resper (Jr., Concord, NC) added ten points on 3-for-7 shooting. All-CIAA inside player Shaunda Ashford (Sr., Fayetteville, NC) was the best shooter for the Lady Broncos, making 4-of-9 shots for 12 points in addition to 12 rebounds.
As a team, the Lady Broncos shot 29 percent but they scored off free throws and rebounds which was enough to beat the Lady Lions, seeded fourth in the Northern Division. The Lady Lions (10-18 overall) made only 24 percent of their shots.
The Lady Lions excelled in other areas. They forced 22 turnovers and out-rebounded the bigger Lady Broncos 51-50, but their shooting struggles cost them against the talented Lady Broncos.
“[Fayetteville State] is a nationally-ranked team and we played them close,” Lincoln (PA) Head Coach Jessica Kern said. “We can defend but we got to score. If we make shots, we are in the ballgame.”
Cynthia Johnson scored 12 points for the Lady Lions, but she was the only player in double figures. She made 5 of 9 buckets from the floor but the rest of the team’s key players shot under 50 percent. Courtney Lewis was the Lady Lions’ second-leading scorer with eight points on 2-for-8 shooting. Tahlar McIntosh added seven points on 2-for-8 shooting but led the Lady Lions with 11 rebounds.
The Lady Lions were cool from the free -throw line, too. They connected on 11-of-18 free throw attempts for 61 percent.
The Lady Falcons opened the game with a 2-0 lead on Brittney Waters’ jumper. That would be their last lead of the contest. The Lady Broncos took their biggest lead at 28-10 on Person’s basket in the first half. They went into halftime with a 31-18 lead.
Hanzer had 12 of her 15 points in the first half to pace the Lady Broncos. The trio of Ashford, Person and Resper added six points. For the Lady Lions, Johnson scored 10 of her 12 points in the opening 20 minutes.
The lead reached 45-30 on two free throws by Person at the midway point of the second half, but the Lady Lions made a mild run. Lewis scored to pull the Lady Lions within 47-38 but the Lady Broncos stretched their lead to 16 points at 54-38 on Person’s layup with 4:37 left.