CHARLOTTE, N.C. - There was no team in this year's CIAA Tournament hotter than Virginia Union.
The Panthers ended the regular season with seven straight wins, including a season sweep of the Northern Division Champs Virginia State and an outside chance of making the NCAA Division II Tournament.
Those chances of reaching the field of 64 ended as Fayetteville State eliminated Virginia Union in the quarterfinals 72-67.
"Will Brown stepped up with 22 and 17 boards, that was huge," VUU Head Coach Jay Butler said. " You get around this time of year, big time players step up and make plays."
The Panthers fell behind 23-10 as they made just three field goals in the first nine minutes of the first half.
Terrell Leach, who was the conference's leading scorer at the end of the regular season, was 1-14 from the field in the 1st half, yet the Panthers were only down 32-28 at halftime.
"[Leach] wanted to do well," Coach Butler said. "Terrell carried us all year, so what I told him was keep shooting the basketball and we're going to ride with you."
At the start of the second half, VUU took their first lead of the game at 33-32 behind a 14-2 run that started at the end of the first half.
Raemaad Wright scored eight of his team high 19 points during that spurt.
Fayetteville State, who split with the Panthers during the regular season, responded with an 6-0 run to take a 38-33 lead they would never relinquished.
Virginia Union shot just 37% from the field against Fayetteville State while the Broncos shot 43% from the field. Fayetteville State won the battle of the boards 44-29 and was 25-33 from the free throw line while Virgini Union was 20-29.
"To lose two seniors and return 13 players, I think the program's in a good place," explained Butler.
Virginia Union ended its season at 18-11.