The 2023 CIAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament wrapped up in Baltimore, Maryland, for the second year of a multi-year deal.
The tournament, which is one of the largest collegiate basketball tourneys in the country, is a week of basketball, reunions and celebrations of the HBCUs that make up this historic conference. Every year, the CIAA Tournament provides fans with lots of great games, upsets, and storylines, and this year was no different.
The Lady Vikings of Elizabeth City brought home their first CIAA Tournament title in program history by defeating Shaw University, a team the Lady Vikings lost to both times in the regular season. ECSU defeated Shaw University by the score of 55-40 in a dominating victory from tipoff. The Lady Vikings held Shaw to just 16 points at halftime with Shaw not having a great night shooting on the floor. ECSU head coach Tynesha Lewis said Shaw had not seen the real Lady Vikings team in their two previous matchups this season but they did during the championship game.
“I told the kids that Shaw had not met the ECSU women’s basketball team yet,” Lewis said. “We didn’t play well against them (at Shaw) and we played terribly against them (at ECSU). So they had no idea who we were because they hadn’t seen us.
“They introduced themselves on Saturday.”
Elizabeth City State University Lady Vikings will now move on and play in the NCAA Division II Women’s Tournament in a 64-team bracket to determine the women’s national champion.
Winston-Salem State University won its 13th CIAA Championship by defeating Lincoln University of Pennsylvania by a score of 62-57. The Rams also earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Tournament with 64 other teams in contention for a national championship. This is the Rams’ second championship in three seasons under head coach Cleo Hill Jr.
“You cannot come [to Winston-State Salem] and not expect to win division championships and conference championships and advance to the NCAA Tournament,” said Coach Cleo Hill Jr. “It’s just part of the deal when you are a coach here or a player here.”
The Rams were led by 14 points from Samage Teel as WSSU took a double-digit lead into halftime. Lincoln University came out in the second half to cut down the lead and eventually tied the game at 34-34 midway in the second half. WSSU came back with a 17-8 run to close out the Lions and win the CIAA Championship. The Rams placed three players on the All-CIAA Tournament Team with Jaylen Alston named CIAA Tournament MVP.
Congratulations to Elizabeth City State Lady Vikings and Winston-Salem State University Rams for excellent seasons and good luck in the NCAA Tournament. Bring home the trophies for us, ladies and gentlemen!