ELON, NC (UNCW Sports)– UNCW senior guard Ahyiona Vason has certainly enjoyed playing in the Colonial Athletic Association Women’s Basketball Championship over the last two years.
The senior guard, who set a career high with 24 points in last year’s tournament against Northeastern, tallied a team-high 20 points in this year’s opening round game against Charleston to lift the No. 9-seeded Seahawks to a 69-55 victory over the eighth-seeded Cougars at Elon University’s Schar Center on Wednesday afternoon.
UNCW, which ran its record to 10-20 on the season, advances to the quarterfinals on Thursday and will face top-seeded Drexel at noon. Charleston, meanwhile, has its season come to an end with a 13-17 mark.
One of four UNCW players to score in double figures, Vason sank 8-of-13 shots from the field, including both of her three-point attempts, while converting both of her free throws. The Montgomery, Ala., product also grabbed three rebounds and dished out two assists.
Senior guard Lacey Suggs, who was honored before the game as the CAA’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year, chipped in 14 points on 6-for-13 shooting from the field and added five rebounds and three assists.
Redshirt senior guard GiGi Smith contributed 13 points with five assists and four rebounds while senior guard Moriah Crisp tallied a season-high 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting, including a 2-for-4 showing from long range, while collecting a game-high seven steals with four assists.
Charleston, which split the regular season series with UNCW, was led by sophomore guard Tyler Collins’ game-high 28 points. Collins, who hails from Atlanta, Ga., was 7-for-19 from the field but converted all 11 of her free throw tries.
Sophomore guard Madison Taylor added 12 points with three rebounds for the Cougars.
The Seahawks, who never trailed in the game, surged to a quick 16-2 lead in the game’s opening six minutes and never looked back en route to securing the victory. Suggs led the early outburst by scoring seven of her points.