DURHAM, N.C. – Bowie State University never panicked despite losing the first match to Virginia State University in the championship round of the CIAA Women’s Bowling Championships on Monday, March 25, 2013.
The Lady Bulldogs simply regrouped and swept the Lady Trojans 4-0 in the second match to claim the league crown at AMF Durham Lanes. The title is the second in four years for the Lady Bulldogs, who were seeded third in bracket play.
“We knew once we got into bracket play we had the capability to make a run,” Bowie State Head Coach Ken Scott said. “We were blessed to have determination and luck.”
The Lady Bulldogs never lost their composure despite losing 4-0 in the first championship match to Virginia State, which won three straight matches in the elimination bracket to reach the finals in the double-elimination tournament. After the loss in the first match, the Lady Bulldogs bounced back to defeat the Lady Trojans, who needed to win twice to gain the title.
The second match was a complete reversal from the first match. The Lady Bulldogs dominated from the start, winning 164-154, 196-168 and 202-136 in the best-of-seven Bakers format for a 3-0 lead. The Lady Trojans battled back in the fourth game to take a 149-140 lead, but tournament MVP Shayla Lightfoot rolled a strike for a 150-149 Lady Bulldogs’ lead. The Lady Trojans regained the lead 159-150 with a strike, but Lightfoot knocked down nine pins on her first roll in the final frame to tie the score. Her one-pin spare gave the game and the championship to the Lady Bulldogs.
Scott says Lightfoot was unaware of the situation in the final frame. “We teach the kids not to look at the scoreboard,” Scott said. “She didn’t know what the score was.”
The spare by Lightfoot touched off a celebration by the Bowie State players, coaches and fans. The Lady Bulldogs captured the title before a large contingent of Bowie State supporters who attended each session of the three-day tournament.
“This team is truly blessed to have support from the athletic department, staff, alumni and our president," Scott said. "They come to watch every match during the regular season.”
The championship capped an outstanding run by the Lady Bulldogs in the tournament. After entering bracket play as the third seed, the Lady Bulldogs won three matches in the winner’s bracket, including a 4-1 win over Elizabeth City State on Monday, to reach the finals.
Meanwhile, the Lady Trojans had a more difficult path after a loss on Sunday sent then to the elimination bracket. On Monday, the fourth-seeded Lady Trojans had their best bowling day, beating two-time defending champ Fayetteville State 4-1, Winston-Salem State 4-2 and Elizabeth City State 4-2 to make it to the finals for the second consecutive year. The win over ECSU avenged a 4-3 loss to the Lady Vikings on Sunday which knocked the Lady Trojans to the elimination bracket. In other matches Monday, Winston-Salem State eliminated Saint Augustine’s 4-1.
The Lady Trojans continued their run against Bowie State in the finals. They won all four games by scores of 181-143, 183-144, 183-135 and 236-172 against the Lady Bulldogs, who hadn’t played since Monday morning against ECSU. In the last game, the Lady Trojans made eight strikes and two spares.
But the momentum turned in the second match. It was the Lady Bulldogs rolling the most strikes and spares. In the third game, the Lady Bulldogs recorded seven strikes including six in the last seven frames.
“[Virginia State] had a slight advantage maybe mentally but we had a break,” Scott said. “Even though we started flat, we were fresher.”
Scott also had a message for his team between the first and second matches in the final round. “I told them to ‘man up’ and they responded,” Scott said.
Scott says winning the Northern Division championship during the regular season helped the Lady Bulldogs in the tournament. The Lady Bulldogs finished in a tie with Elizabeth City State but won the division on total pins. Three Northern Division teams - Bowie State, Virginia State and Elizabeth City State – finished among the top three in the tournament.
The Lady Bulldogs captured their latest championship with a young roster including three freshmen. Lightfoot, the tourney MVP, is a sophomore.
“We didn’t jell until the last division tournament,” Scott said. “All the schools in our division our highly competitive which helped us prepare for the [CIAA] tournament.”
The All-Tournament team consisted of Amber Slater of Virginia State, Briana Evans of Bowie State, Nicole Sciortino of Saint Augustine’s and Crystal Mujica of Fayetteville State in addition to Lightfoot. They had the top five bowling averages in the tournament. Lincoln (Pa.) won the CIAA team highest grade point average award.