VUU women’s basketball advances to first National Championship game since 1983

The following comes directly from Virginia Union:

[COLUMBUS, OHIO] Virginia Union University women’s basketball coach AnnMarie Gilbert has previously used the word resilient to describe this year’s Panthers.

They showed it on Wednesday, March 22, when they punched their ticket to the NCAA national championship.

Virginia Union defeated California Baptist 86-81 to reach the NCAA Division II national championship. They face either Ashland University or Harding University at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, March 24.

Ashley Smith scored a game-high 28 points, 22 coming in the second half. Lady Walker scored 18 points and grabbed 19 rebounds. Alexis Johnson scored 20 points with nine rebounds.

The Lancers led the majority of the game but the Panthers closed the game on a 10-2 run.

Johnson tied the game at 76-76 with a put back with just under three minutes remaining. The Lancers answered with a 3-pointer, but Smith followed with a layup before Johnson hit a jumper to give Union a 80-79 lead.

Spivey’s lay up made it 82-79 and Johnson hit two free throws with 19 seconds left to make it 84-79, capping a 8-0 run for the Panthers.

Cal answered with a layup but Smith and Walker each hit a free throw over the final 11 seconds to seal the victory.

The Lancers led by as many as 12 points in the first half. They finished the game 15 of 40 from 3-point range.

The Panthers are looking for the second national championship in school history after winning the 1983 national title.

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Union University’s lady Panthers will take the hardwood tonight in the Final Four in Columbus, Ohio against California Baptist University at 6 p.m.

Bryce Holloway, a senior at VUU, said she will be on campus in Richmond cheering on the team.

“I’m actually super excited, we haven’t been or want to national championship since 1983,” Holloway said. “So now that our girls are elevating doing what they are supposed to do, it’s very exciting and the city is behind them.”

Senior LaRae Gillard said the lady Panthers are instilling old fashioned pride in the University.

“All sorts of alumni tell me that Union used to be so cool and that the team was so great,” Gilliard said. “It’s kind of bringing back that Panther pride that Richmond needs.”

VUU football player Lavatiae Kelly said the lady Panthers inspire all students.

“It gives us momentum,” Kelly said. “It makes us strive better, it makes everybody be great, every team, every sport, even the students, even in class it makes us want to be better.”

Win or lose tonight,VUU Junior Joshua Nelson said he’s proud of the strides the team has made.

“They did their best to make it to the Elite Eight then the Final Four, that’s unheard of, so whether they win or lose I’ve got their back,” Nelson said.

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