Senior guard Robert Davis scored 19 second-half points, helping the Johnson C. Smith University men's basketball team to an 81-78 season-opening 81-78 road win at West Virginia State in the Earl Lloyd Classic on Friday night.
JCSU (1-0) and West Virginia State had a close battle throughout the game, with neither team leading by more than six points.
In the first half, WVSU gained the six-point cushion at the 6:55 mark when Robert Fomby connected on a fast-break layup, putting the Yellow Jackets ahead 28-22. JCSU would answer by taking the one-point lead (29-28) after two free throws from sophomore
Casey Minor (Winston-Salem, N.C.). WVSU would push their lead back to 37-32 but the Golden Bulls fought back again, cutting the gap to 39-38 when Minor drilled a three-pointer with 28 seconds before the half. WVSU would get a layup from Fomby with five seconds left to take the 41-38 lead into the break.
The Yellow Jacket lead would again swell to five points (43-38) after a basket from Jerry Moore to open the half, but the Golden Bulls would fight back to take the 49-46 lead after a layup and free throw from Davis at the 15:19 mark.
WVSU would take another five point advantage (58-53) with 11:09 to play, but again JCSU responded to build a five point lead of their own after a free throw by Minor with 4:01 to play. JCSU would gain their largest lead of the game (79-73) with 1:25 to play after a Davis layup and would hold off WVSU the rest of the way, earning the 81-78 win.
As a team, JCSU shot 53.7% from the field on a 29-of-54 effort and was 4-of-8 from distance. JCSU was also efficient from the free throw line, finishing 19-of-24 for a 79.2% clip. JCSU also outworked the Yellow Jackets in the inside, finishing with a 50-42 advantage of points in the paint.
Senior Robert Davis led all JCSU scorers with 23 points and is now just eight points shy of the 1,000-point mark for his career. Sophomore Casey Minor had 20 while Roddric Ross (Forest City, N.C.) had 13 points and a team-best eight rebounds in his debut for the Gold and Blue. Rounding out the double-digit scorers for JCSU was senior guard Christian Kirchman (Roanoke, Va.), as he finished with 12 points on a 5-of-11 shooting night and added a team-high seven assists.
JCSU will return to the floor on Saturday afternoon, taking on UVa-Wise at 2:00 p.m. in the
Earl Lloyd Classic.