WINSTON-SALEM, NC - Freshman Michel-Ofik Nzege scored 16 and sophomore WyKevin Bazemore added another double-double to his growing resume' with 15 points and 10 rebounds, as the #17 Winston-Salem State sprinted past the Elizabeth City State Vikings, 65-53 at the CE Gaines Center on the WSSU campus.
With the win, WSSU moves to 13-2 overall and 5-0 in CIAA play, pushing their winning streak to 12 games. It is the longest winning streak for a Rams basketball team since the 2000-01 season. The ECSU Vikings fall to 9-7 overall and 2-4 in CIAA play.
Winston-Salem State started quick with some hot shooting and stifling defense to race out early to a 15-1 lead. They would continue the onslaught and lead 19-2 with 11:14 to play in the first half.
Elizabeth City State would settle down and go on a 15-7 run to make a game of it, and cut the lead to nine points with 5:30 to go before the half, at 26-17.
A Michel-Ofik Nzege free throw and a WyKevin Bazemore layup, countered back to back three's from ECSU's Quintin Spady to give WSSU a eight point halftime lead of 33-25.
As the second half got underway, WSSU started quick once again and pushed their lead out to ten points with 18:37 to play, and for the next several minutes the two teams played even.
Elizabeth City State would go on a 16-8 run to cut the Rams lead to just one, at 48-47 with 7:09 left, but WSSU would come right back with two free throws from WyKevin Bazemore and a three point play the hard way from Joseph Thompson to push the lead back to six points.
Winston-Salem State would finish the game on a 10-4 run fueled by baskets from Bazemore, Nzege and an alley-oop dunk by Wakefield Ellison from Glover.
Justin Glover would finish WSSU's scoring on a between the legs monster dunk, the same one he missed earlier in the game during a crucial stretch. But this time he brought down the loud and boisterous crowd in the hot and steam CE Gaines Center.
Winston-Salem State out rebounded the Vikings 38-37, and also held advantages in points in the pain (36-26); points off of turnovers (27-12); 2nd chance points (17-6); and fast break (12-6). For the first time during the win streak the Rams bench was outscored. ECSU held a slight 28-25 advantage.
The WSSU Rams' international freshman sensation, Michel-Ofik Nzege, led the charge for WSSU with 16 points and seven rebounds. WyKevin Baze added 15 points and ten rebounds, and Wakefield Ellison came off the bench to add 10 points and three rebounds. Joseph Thompson scored seven points and grabbed four rebounds, and Tyre Desmore chipped in four points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals. WSSU's leading scorer at 15.6 points per game, Justin Glover, scored just four points on two of 12 shooting. He did have one assists and five steals. Marcus Wells added four assists and four steals for the Rams. Kimani Hunt also pulled down four rebounds off the bench.
Deon Rice was the lone Viking in double figures, with 12 points, while Quinton Spady added nine points. ECSU's leading scorer, Angelo Sharpless, was held to eight points and nine rebounds, on four of 11 shooting.
"We fought and scrapped and found a way to survive on the road, and we came home and took care of business", said Bobby Collins of the 12 game winning streak the Rams are currently on.
"We know it's about those three games in March, and making a run in the NCAA Tournament. But we have a long way to go and haven't won anything yet. I am very proud of my guys for weathering the storm to this point", added Collins.
Winston-Salem State will start CIAA Southern Divisional play on Saturday, when they travel to Raleigh to face the Saint Augustine's University Falcons at 4:00 pm.