The Fayetteville State University women’s basketball team’s season ended all too soon for a team that had championship aspirations. The Broncos were knocked out of the CIAA Tournament in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, February 28.
The FSU women’s basketball team entered the tournament as the top seed in the Southern division thanks to a dominant, 12-game winning-streak capping the regular season. Overall, the Broncos went 16-10. In conference play, FSU was 11-5, and more impressively, the Broncos went a perfect 10-0 against Southern division opponents. As top seed in the division, FSU had a bye for the opening round of the CIAA Tournament.
Their reward for clinching the top seed and an opening round bye? A 22-9 overall (10-6 conference) Bowie State squad that featured as a fourth seed in the ridiculously tough Northern division. Fans in Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina were treated to a thriller as the game went into overtime. Ultimately, it appeared that the Broncos ran out of gas in the extra period as Bowie State won 72-64 to stop FSU’s incredible run right in its tracks.
Early in the season, these Broncos were sluggish as they stumbled to a 4-10 start, including a six-game losing streak. A mid-January win against Johnson C. Smith is what turned the women’s season around as they would not lose until the last day of February in the tournament.
The turnaround in play and fortune for the Broncos can be attributed to the efforts of Shantel Bennett, Yakima Clifton, Noni Kuumba, and Courtney Best. Bennett was the team’s leading scorer with 11 points per game. In 19 of the 26 of games she played, she scored at least 10 points. Clifton, a preseason pick for All-Conference had a 6-game stretch where she scored at least 10 points that coincided with the Broncos’ winning-streak. Kuumba in her fifth start of the season, scored 21 points against Livingstone. She scored 26 points and 22 points in her next two games that helped turn a one-game Broncos winning-streak into four. Best started only 13 games all season, but the Broncos were 12-1 in the games she started. The only loss being to Bowie State in the tournament.
Sporting a balanced roster this year composed of seven upperclassmen and four freshman, Coach Serena King-Coleman graduates three seniors from the roster: Jamesha Mosley, Breona Jones, and Best this season. Mosley averaged 8 points and 4 rebounds a game. Jones was the team’s second leading scorer with 9 points per game and she had 12 games where she scored in double digits. Best averaged 8 points and 4 rebounds a game.
The season ended in disappointing fashion for the Fayetteville State University men’s basketball team. Despite carrying a subpar record into the CIAA Tournament, there was still hope for the FSU men’s basketball team to turn their season around, considering last season they went on an improbable run to the CIAA Championship. However, this time their season came to an end in the second round of the CIAA Tournament.
The FSU men’s basketball finished the 2017-2018 season with an 8-21 record overall and a 4-12 conference record.
Bogged down by injuries and inconsistent play, these young Broncos were never able to string more than two consecutive wins together. Coach Ken Spencer had a very young squad that featured six freshman Broncos making their collegiate debut. Their season was punctuated by a frustrating, mid-season eight game slide. However, for fans of the team, there was always hope that these Broncos would be able to flip a switch and string together impressive play thanks to their strength, their guards.
The Broncos defeated Lincoln (PA) in the first round of the CIAA Tournament, 62-55 before losing a back and forth affair to the Southern division’s number one seed Johnson C. Smith, 68-58.
All year, the men’s basketball team was led by its guards Josh Bryant, Willie Gilmore, and Denzell Hosch. Bryant was the leading scorer averaging 15 points per game. In February, Bryant was named to the All-CIAA team. Of the 27 games that Bryant played, he failed to score at least 10 points only five times.
Gilmore averaged 14 points per game and finished the season with six consecutive games with double-digit scoring. Hosch averaged 12 points while having six 20-point plus outbursts for the season. His season-high of 34 points against West Florida was the most points scored by any Bronco this season.
Looking towards next year, FSU men’s basketball’s prospects seem to be a much improved next season. The Broncos will return every player except two, seniors Javen McNeill and Gilmore. Forward McNeill was the team’s leading rebounder with 4.5 per game. Leading scorer Bryant and Hosch will be juniors next year with a shot at being named Preseason All-CIAA players for the season. It was a trying season for Coach Spencer and this FSU team, but it should not dampen the excitement and expectations for the next season.