WINSTON-SALEM, NC – The Winston-Salem State Rams (11-14, 6-11 CIAA) used some clutch defense to claim a thrilling 70-69 win over the Johnson C. Smith Golden Bulls (8-16, 5-12 CIAA), Wednesday evening. The Rams had to fend off a furious Golden Bulls comeback to secure a win in their final home game of the season.
The Rams took the win behind some scorching hot shooting and some tough defense. As a team, WSSU shot 50.0% (25-of-50) from the floor. However, the Rams struggled from long range, shooting just 20.0% (three-of-15) from the three-point line. WSSU junior guard Robert Colon led the way for the Rams with 19 points while senior forward William Crandell added 16 points with seven rebounds. Redshirt-sophomore guard Julius Barnes added 13 points with two assists and two steals.
The game looked to be an easy one early for the Rams, but the team soon found themselves holding off a furious comeback effort from the Golden Bulls. The Rams began their control of the game early, but the team soon found themselves tied with the Golden Bulls, 12-12, near the midpoint of the quarter. However, the Rams outscored the Golden Bulls 21-11 in the final 10 minutes of the half. A pair of free throws from senior guard James Rucker, II gave the Rams their largest lead of the game, 33-19 with 1:03 left to play in the half. In the end, the Rams closed the half with a 33-23.
The second half told a different story as the Rams allowed Johnson C. Smith to steadily chip away at the lead and set up a dramatic finish. The Rams had to first hold off an early run by the Golden Bulls as a Rucker, II dunk gave the Rams a 47-40 lead with 12:38 left to play. The Rams' cushion was solid until the final minutes of the game. The WSSU lead was cut down to just one point, 68-67 with 2:01 left to play. From there, the Rams would not record another field goal. However, the team played some clutch defense that included a Rucker, II block with 00:14 left to play and forced a missed three-pointer and a missed lay-up in the final three seconds of the game to hold on for the 70-69 win.
With the win, the Rams improve to 11-14 overall, and 6-11 in Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) play. The team also improves to 5-6 in CIAA Southern Division play and is firmly in fourth place in the division. The Rams will return to action, Saturday when they head to Salisbury, N.C. to take on the Livingstone Blue Bears in a 4:00 p.m. game. 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.