ETTRICK — Senior night at Virginia State wasn’t supposed to go this way.
The Trojans entered their seniors’ final regular-season game in the VSU Multipurpose Center having held all opponents to a CIAA-low 64 points per game. They had held conference foes to 63.6 points per contest.
They were tied with Virginia Union at 7-1 for first place in the Northern Division entering Wednesday night. They held an 11-point lead at halftime.
But Bowie State used a 12-1 run to take a 57-55 lead with 1:37 left to play and went on to make free throws and hand the Trojans a 65-61 defeat.
Virginia State will travel to face Lincoln on Saturday to close the regular season, but coach Lonnie Blow hopes the tough loss will provide lessons that will serve the defending CIAA champions well in the coming postseason.
“I thought we took a couple ill-advised shots and made a couple ill-advised turnovers and kind of gave them momentum,” said Blow. “Once they got momentum, it was kind of hard to get it back.”
“Just can’t make those kind of plays late in the game and in a tight game, in crucial situations,” he said.
“Just got to learn from it.”
Bowie’s Omari George scored 8 of the Bulldogs’ 12 points during the late run. His two free throws were what put the Bulldogs ahead for good. Richard Granberry tied the game for Virginia State at 57-57 after George’s free throws, but Bowie’s Dayshawn Wells answered by knocking down a 3 from the corner to make it 60-57 with 49.7 seconds left.
The Bulldogs made 5 of 6 from the foul line in the game’s final 30 seconds.
“They were living at the free throw line,” said Blow. “That helped them win the game.”
Bowie attempted 38 free throws and made 27. Virginia State attempted 15 and made 10.
“As far as baskets, I thought we did a decent job guarding,” Blow said. “We just, again, some of the fouls and they got a lot of free throws out of it.”
“Nothing you can do about it now, just have to learn from it,” said Blow.
“Rather learn from wins, but you’ve got to learn from it and just make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Virginia Union, winner of nine straight, defeated Elizabeth City State 69-61 on Wednesday to move to 8-1 in the CIAA’s Northern Division. The Trojans fell to 7-2. The Bulldogs remain in fourth place at 4-5 in the division. Chowan defeated Lincoln to remain in third at 5-4.