WINSTON-SALEM, NC – The Winston-Salem State Rams (2-8, 0-1 CIAA) gave a great effort, but the team fell just short in a 71-68 loss to the Virginia Union Panthers (6-6, 1-0 CIAA) to open Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) play, Thursday evening. After trailing early, the Rams had a big second half, but fell just short in a hard-fought loss to the Panthers.
The Rams took the loss in spite of a solid overall effort in the game. As a team, the Rams shot 43.9% (25-of-57) from the floor in the game. WSSU sophomore guard Robert Colon led the way for the Rams with 18 points in the game while junior guard Derrick Farquarson added 16 points in the game and junior forward William Crandell added 13 points.
The Rams struggled early in the game, but the Rams kept things within reach with some solid scoring runs in the first half. Early in the game, it was Virginia Union who took control as the Rams trailed 10-2 in the first five minutes of play. The Rams soon worked their way back into the game, outscoring the Panthers 20-12 to tie the game, 22-22 after a three-pointer from Farquarson midway through the half. A Colon three-pointer with 6:16 left in the half gave the Rams their first lead of the night, 28-27. The Rams were able to hold on to their lead until the final minutes of the half when a Virginia Union run left the Rams trailing, 40-33 at halftime.
In the second half, the Rams continued to push, but the team was never able to claim the lead, but the team was able to keep the game within reach for all 20 minutes. After keeping the Panthers within two points, 53-51 midway through the second half, the Rams fell behind by as many as nine points, 65-56 with 4:39 left to play. The Rams headed into the final minute of play trailing, 70-63 before a furious comeback effort. It was Colon who led the way for the Rams with four of the team's five points in the final minutes. He hit a pair of free throws to begin the run and capped the run with a lay-up with nine seconds left to play that pulled the Rams within three points, 71-68. After a pair of missed free throws by the Panthers, the Rams had one final shot to send the game into overtime, but the shot was off to the right at the buzzer and gave the Rams the loss in their CIAA opener.
With the loss, the Rams fall to 2-8 overall and 0-1 in CIAA play. The team will return to action, Saturday when they host the Lincoln (Pa.) Lions in a 4:00 p.m. game at the C.E. Gaines Center on the campus of Winston-Salem State University. For more information on Rams men's basketball, contact the WSSU Office of Athletic Media Relations at (336) 750-2143 or log on to www.WSSURams.com.