ETTRICK — One night after its 3-point barrage and hot shooting granted Virginia State a win over Virginia Union in the first round of the NCAA Division II tournament, the Trojans died by the same sword Sunday against Shippensburg.
Justin McCarthur and Antonio Kellem combined to bury seven 3-pointers to score 40 points for the Raiders, and Shippensburg totaled nine 3s to end the Trojans’ season with a 77-58 win in the second round of the Atlantic Regional at Virginia State.
McCarthur and Kellem were on the mark from long range early, and Shippensburg opened the game with a 14-3 run. The Trojans never cut the Raiders’ lead lower than 4 thereafter.
“It’s tough. They got off to a really good start, they were hot coming out of the gate,” VSU coach Lonnie Blow said.
“I thought we fought back and kind of closed the gap there, but we couldn’t get enough stops to get all the way back. You got to tip your hat to (Shippensburg); they played an outstanding game and they’re moving on.”
Save for the 8 points Cyonte Melvin scored in a row down the stretch of the first half for Virginia State, the Trojans’ starting five were largely underwhelming one night after all five starters scored in double figures against Union in the first round.
Melvin’s dunk with 2:47 left to go in the first half cut Shippensburg’s lead to 31-27, but the Raiders opened the second half with a 25-6 run to blow the game wide open.
Melvin finished with 12 points, and Richard Granberry scored a team-high 16 points for the Trojans.
McCarthur, who scored just 6 points in the first half, exploded for 15 after the break to finish with a game-high 21 for the Raiders, and Kellem, who did most of his work in the first half, finished with 19.
And if Kellem and McCarthur weren’t causing enough problems on the perimeter, Dustin Sleva finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds on the interior for Shippensburg as the Raiders shot 52.1 percent from the floor.
“I just thought we didn’t play well, defensively especially,” Blow said.
“But I’m proud of the guys, we had a great season. Unfortunate it had to end this way, but that’s how the game goes.”
With 25 wins, VSU set a school record. Blow said there were probably records his team broke that he didn’t know about. And while the season didn’t culminate in any trophies for the Trojans, there was plenty that made this season a success for Blow and his team.
“I’m just proud of the guys, man, and how much work we put in,” Blow said.
“History-making season, record-breaking season — just some outstanding guys on my team and they’re good players, they’re outstanding players but they’re good people, too.
“We can look back on this as one of the all-time great seasons this school has ever had.”
Shippensburg (25-7): Kellem 19, McCarthur 21, Sleva 16, Conner 11, Castello 4, Biss 0, Talley 0, Council 4, Span 0, Carter 0. Totals 25 18-21 77.
Virginia State (25-5): Wright 0, Brown 12, Melvin 10, Williams 5, Granberry 16, Holley 3, Owens 0, Smith 4, Vedder 4, Rahama 2, Corum 2. Totals 21 14-15 58.
3-point goals: SHIP: McCarthur 5, Kellem 2, Conner, Council; VSU: Brown 2.
Halftime: Shippensburg 37-29.