Johnson, Shaw Outlast Virginia State
By JACOB VAUGHAN, Sports Editor
Jan 10, 2013, 15:31
Virginia State University sophomore Shawn Porter (left) fights for position as Shaw senior Karron Johnson reaches for the ball during a CIAA game on Monday at Daniel Gymnasium in Ettrick. Shaw pulled away in the second half to win 78-60 (photo by David Breidenbach).
ETTRICK – Touted by many as one of the best professional basketball prospects playing at the NCAA Division II level, Richmond native Karron Johnson returned to the area on Monday.
And the 6-foot-8, do-it-all forward proved to be as good as advertised.
Aided by Johnson’s 23 points and eight rebounds,
Virginia State University senior John Holleman (23), who graduated from Petersburg High School, takes a jumpshot over the outstretched arm of Karron Johnson (13) on Military Appreciation Night in Ettrick (photo by David Breidenbach).
Shaw University secured a 78-60 victory over Virginia State at Daniel Gymnasium in Ettrick.
Johnson, a senior, racked up 15 of his game-high point tally after halftime as the visiting Bears turned a closely contested CIAA showdown into a blowout.
“I had a lot of family that came to see me play for the first time,” Johnson said. “So I had a few jitters. But in the second half I settled down and started to be a little more aggressive.”
Senior Kenny Mitchell poured in 20 points and did his best to keep VSU in contention, but the home team was unable to overcome a woeful shooting performance.
While the Trojans hauled in 18 offensive rebounds and took 11 more shots than the Bears, they connected on less than one third of their attempts (19 of 63).
By contrast, Shaw successfully converted more than half of their efforts from the field.
“We can’t shoot 30 percent from the floor and let the other team shoot 53 percent, 63 in the second half,” said second-year VSU coach Darryl Jacobs. “You can’t win games like that.”
Jacobs said he was satisfied with the opportunities his team created, just not their success rate.
“We were getting good shots,” Jacobs said. “We were just missing them. In the last couple games, we’ve been shooting close to 50 percent from the floor at home. We just have to knock them down.”
Mitchell started the game in emphatic fashion by corralling an offensive rebound on the Trojans’ first possession and finishing with a right-handed dunk. The 6-9 senior struck again on his next trip down the floor, knocking down a 15-foot, fade-away jumper that gave VSU a 4-0 lead.
Shaw junior Curtis Hines negated Mitchell’s fast start with a 3-pointer and fastbreak layup in quick succession that gave the Bears a 5-4 lead. The visitors never trailed again, but the opening stanza was anything but one-sided.
The Trojans forced four ties in the first half – at nine, 11, 20 and 32 – but the Bears broke each deadlock with a lead-seizing basket. After trailing 30-22 with three minutes remaining in the half, VSU scored 10 of the next 12 points to tie the game at 32-32 with 18 seconds left.
Junior guard Allen Harris came off the bench to score eight of his 16 points during the equalizing surge. Shaw point guard Latrail McCoy scored with five ticks left, though, and the Bears entered the intermission clinging to a 34-32 lead.
The Trojans shot a paltry 26 percent from the field in the first half, but lingered thanks to a 25-16 rebounding edge and a 12-of-12 showing from the free throw line.
“We saw that they weren’t shooting a very good percentage,” said Shaw coach Cleo Hill, Jr. “But they were in the game because of offensive rebounds. They had 13 at the half, so that was a focus for us in the second half.”
The Bears limited the Trojans to five offensive boards in the second half and the Trojans’ shooting showed only marginal improvement. Making matters worse for VSU, Johnson caught fire and torched the Trojans with a barrage of post moves.
Ignited by his efforts, Shaw outscored VSU 51-22 in the paint.
“He attacked us more [in the second half],” Jacobs said. “I told our guys to give him the jump shot, but they wanted to push up on him. He was going by them, spinning off them and doing all that stuff in the post.”
The Bears assembled second-half runs of 10-3 and 12-0 to construct their decisive lead, which peaked at 21 points. Taurus Dortch scored 16 points for Shaw (3-0 CIAA, 9-4 overall) while McCoy chipped in with 11 points and nine assists.
Shawn Porter spearheaded the Trojans’ stout rebounding effort with 10 while Mitchell grabbed eight and Christopher Grier four. With the loss, VSU fell to 1-2 in conference play (6-6 overall).
The team from Ettrick will look to bounce back on a three-game road trip through North Carolina that starts on Thursday at Livingstone and concludes on Monday at Johnson C. Smith.
“We’re making progress,” Jacobs said. “But we have to do better in big games.”
In addition to his game-high point tally – which included three dunks that subdued a rowdy crowd of 860 fans – Johnson racked up four assists, two blocks and two steals.
Many scouts regard Johnson as a player capable of breaking into the National Basketball Association. Johnson admitted that a lot is riding on this his second year at Shaw, but insisted that going pro is not his top priority at the moment.
“At this point, I’m not too concerned about it,” Johnson said. “Don’t get me wrong, I like to hear the good news, but I have my college career to focus on right now. When I get done with that, then we’ll look towards the next step.”
Game Notes: The stands were packed with military personnel as VSU played host to Military Appreciation Night … Shaw held a 19-4 advantage in fastbreak points and an 18-16 edge in points off turnovers … The VSU bench outscored Shaw’s 25-9.