Concordia men, women win USCAA championships
Published 5:41 pm Saturday, March 4, 2017
Concordia College Alabama had to rally to make school history Saturday, but that only made the victory even sweeter.
The Hornets rallied from nine down in the first half to beat Illinois Tech 61-51 for the United States Collegiate Athletic Association national championship. It was the first men’s basketball title in Concordia’s history and it served as a bit of redemption for last season, when Concordia lost the championship game to Oakwood University.
“We’ve been up here four years in a row and it feels good to finally bring it home,” said Concordia coach Fredrick Summers.
DeQuarius Johnson tied the game at 35-35 with a layup at the 15:39 mark of the second half and Concordia didn’t trail again. The Hornets started the second half on a 19-6 run after trailing 33-27 at the half.
“This group has been resilient all year,” Summers said.
The Hornets proved that again Saturday, outscoring Illinois Tech 34-18 in the second half.
“We started the game shooting jump shots and that’s not really our MO,” Summers said. “We started pounding the ball inside and stopped playing outside in and started playing inside out. That changed everything for us.”
Tournament MVP Dennis Miles scored 16 points and added 10 rebounds to lead Concordia in scoring. He was 6-for-12 from the field.
Deangelo Anthony and Tavin Cummings were also in double figures. Anthony had 13 points and Cummings scored 12.
The Hornets scored 20 points off 17 Illinois Tech turnovers.
“We wanted to keep the pressure on them and make them do things that they don’t normally do,” Summers said.
Concordia 70, Berea 59 (Women)
The Concordia College Alabama women’s basketball team continued its dominance in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association Saturday, beating Berea College 70-59 to claim the school’s sixth women’s basketball championship.
The Hornets rallied from eight down in the second half but took the lead for good on Carshava Sulton’s free throw with 1:00 minute left in the third quarter in the Division I championship game. Concordia didn’t trail again on their way to becoming back to back national champions.
“We were just a second half team this year,” said Concordia coach Howard White. “ We would play OK in the first, second quarters, but in the third or fourth quarter you better be ready to play because we were going to be ready.”
Traniya Pitts was named the tournament MVP after scoring 23 points in the championship game. Pitts scored 21 of her 23 points in the second half to lead Concordia to the come from behind win.
“She really stepped up in that game,” Howard said of Pitts. “She hit two big 3-pointers in the second half that put us over the top.”
Berea led 17-10 at the end of the first quarter and 31-25 at halftime but Concordia held the Mountaineers to just 26 percent shooting from the floor.
“What I told them was, be patient. Be patient,” White said. “We are only down 8 points. That’s nothing. We have enough firepower on offense to score. Lets turn up the defense on the other end.”
That’s exactly what Concordia did. White said the team went man-to-man and put Lashanique Youngblood, the team’s best defender, on any Berea player that got hot from the field.
“She knows how to get you out of your game., take away your strengths,” White said.
Lashanique Youngblood joined Pitts in double figures with 14 points and 8 rebounds. Renesya Brown had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Sulton only scored 5 points but she had 10 rebounds.
Shuntavia Harris was held to 9 points but also had 7 blocks.
White is also an assistant coach on the school’s men’s basketball team, which had won the USCAA national title earlier Saturday, so he won two championships in one day. He has six championship rings total in his career.
“To get two in one day, that’s remarkable. Most people don’t get to do that,” White said.
White said both teams, the men and women, had a lot to be proud of this year. Both trailed in the second half but rallied to win.
“It’s been a good ride this year,” he said. “I’m so proud of the men and women. They stuck together and stayed focused on the goal.”