Charlotte, NC -- In a very exciting match-up with Johnson & Wales Denver in the first round of the JWU Cup, the Johnson & Wales Charlotte Men's Basketball Team emerged victorious with a 71-66 win to advance to the championship game tomorrow to play Johnson & Wales Providence, who took down Johnson & Wales North Miami in the earlier game.
The first half saw four lead changes and three ties before JWU Charlotte took a 31-30 lead into the locker room. In the second half, both teams made halftime adjustments to keep the score close. Charlotte held a slim lead until Denver was able to overtake them by one point at the 14:29 mark at 46-45. Denver pushed the lead to ten points with 12:42 to play for the largest lead for either team. Charlotte began to mount a comeback and had cut the lead to five points at 57-52 by 9:24 on the clock. A three-point play and a putback by Andrew Williams on back-to-back possessions gave Charlotte a 59-58 lead with 7:45 to play. Nick Crawford pushed the Charlotte lead to 61-58 with a driving lay-up, but Denver tied the game back up with a three-point basket of their own. The game remained tied at 61 for nearly two minutes before Charlotte took a 63-61 lead off a Tramain Parker lay-up on an assist from Nick Crawford. Andrew Williams came up with a steal on the next Denver possession and scored a lay-up off another Nick Crawford assist to make it 65-61. Tempers began to flare at this point, but both teams kept themselves in check. Denver closed the gap to 65-64 with 2:57 to play and then scored a lay-up off a broken Charlotte defensive trap to go ahead by one point at 66-65. Nick Crawford countered for Charlotte with a circus shot in the lane to retake the lead at 67-66. A costly Denver turnover ruined the next possession, and Charlotte regained the ball. Andrew Williams grabbed a crucial offensive rebound off the Charlotte shot and was fouled. He knocked down both free throws to push the Charlotte lead to three at 69-66. Denver got two potential game-tying threes off in their next possession before Charlotte grabbed the rebound and was fouled. Joshua Cohen hit two more free throws to make the score 71-66. Denver was unable to score on its final possession, and Charlotte came out with the win by five points.
JWU Charlotte (5-7) was lead by Tramain Parker with 22 points (18 in the first half). Rickey Porter had another double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds, and Andrew Williams came up big in the closing minutes to finish with 11 points. JWU Denver (0-13) had three scorers in double-figures with Andrew Bonner leading the way with 21 points and Michael Mitchell and Damon Jones each adding 13.
JWU Charlotte meets JWU Providence in the JWU Cup Championship Game at 3:00 PM Saturday. JWU North Miami and JWU Denver will meet at 1:00 PM Saturday in the consolation game. An awards ceremony will follow the championship game to award tournament honors.