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Ashley Fields scored five points down the stretch and Deja Dickens fired in a career-high 24 points as the Claflin University Lady Panthers knocked off nationally-ranked Virginia Union, 62-59, Thursday inside Tullis Arena.

With the win, Claflin improved to 4-1 in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) and 6-4 overall.

Fields, who scored the Lady Panthers last five points, finished the game with a double-double of 15 points (12 in the second half) and 10 rebounds.

Also scoring in double figures for Claflin was Dashia Jackson with 14 points.

The Lady Panthers knocked down 10 three-pointers, with Dickens contributing six to tie a career best.

Virginia Union, which entered the contest ranked 5th in the D2SIDA Women’s Basketball National Poll and unbeaten, dropped to 8-1 overall and 0-1 in league play.

Shareka McNeill led Virginia Union with 19 points.

In the fourth quarter, the lead changed hands several times until Shakarri Mack put Claflin up for good at 57-56 with 1:41 left. The Lady Panthers held off Virginia Union down the stretch by scoring five of the last eight points.

Claflin outscored Virginia Union 19-17 in the quarter.

The game was tied twice in the early goings of the third quarter, before Rejoice Spivey hit a three-pointer at the 5:02 mark to put Virginia Union ahead at 34-31.

Virginia Union increased its lead to 42-33 at the 2:33 mark, only to see the Lady Panthers pull to within 42-41 by the end the end of the quarter.

“It was a great win for our program,” Claflin head coach Revonda Whitely said. “Our ladies played tough and willed the win. Virginia Union is a great program and I am a big fan of Coach Gilbert.

“What she does with her team and program is exceptional, so to win against that caliber of a team is definitely a huge win for the Claflin women’s basketball program.”

In the opening quarter, Fields tip-in tied the contest at 7-7 with 4:53 showing on the clock. That would be the only points scored by the Lady Panthers until Dickens hit a three-pointer with 30 seconds left in the quarter.

Between the Claflin scoring drought, Virginia Union reeled off nine unanswered points to lead 16-7 at the 1:50 mark.

Dickens basket ended the Virginia Union run as the Lady Panthers trailed 16-10 heading into the second quarter.

In the second quarter, Virginia Union increased its lead to 26-13 with 6:43 left in the quarter on a layup from McNeill. Virginia Union would see its 13-point lead reduced to a tie at intermission off a 15-2 run by the Lady Panthers over the last six minutes of the quarter, pulling even at 28-28.

Claflin hit four three-pointers in the quarter and outscored Virginia Union 18-12.

The Lady Panthers will travel to Saint Augustine’s University on Saturday for a CIAA rematch in Raleigh, N.C.

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