CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Virginia Union Lady Panthers ended the regular season averaging almost 72 points per game, making them the second most prolific offense in the CIAA.
But in three meetings against Bowie State this season, VUU was held to under 50 points, including a 53-41 loss to the Lady Bulldogs in the semifinals of the CIAA Tournament on Friday.
The 41 points were a season low for the Lady Panthers, who were denied the chance of a possible three-peat as tournament champions.
"I don't think we shared the ball," VUU Head Coach Ann Marie Gilbert said. "We usually move the ball inside out. Get it to our post, snap it back out to our shooters, knock down shots and that didn't happen."
Bowie State, who led the nation in scoring defense during the regular season at just under 49 points per game, held Virginia Union below 28 percent from the field, 2-8 from behind the arc and forced 17 turnovers.
The Lady Bulldogs advanced to the conference title game for the first time since 2017 and seek their first championship since 1999.
Dy'Manee Royal, who scored 12 points, was the only VUU player in double figures.
"We just haven't found that one player to step up like Shareka [McNeil] did," Coach Gilbert explained. "It's like, we're on the biggest stage we been on so who does that role go to now."
McNeil, who led the nation in scoring at over 38 points per game, suffered a season-ending knee injury after eight games.
Despite the loss, Virginia Union more than likely will qualify for the NCAA Division II Tournament. The Lady Panthers have a 23-4 record and ranked inside the top five of the Atlantic Region.
"I think we've earned it," Coach Gilbert said. "I think we've done the job all year. Our body of work is good."