Four men’s basketball teams from Historically Black universities, representatives from over 20 additional Black colleges and universities, and thousands of fans came out in support of the Seventh Annual Big Apple Classic, recently held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Virginia Union University and Howard University bested Virginia State University and Delaware State University, respectively, to share the title of BAC Champions.
The Big Apple Classic, billed as New York City’s first and only HBCU basketball tournament, served as a gathering for the four schools’ alumni and to introduce the greater New York community to HBCUs from around the country. While the games were being played, over 20 historically Black colleges and universities were represented on the surrounding concourse as part of the BAC College Fair. Additionally, the BAC Leadership Summit, held the previous day in Manhattan at The New York Times Building, showcased seminars designed to encourage participation in STEM fields and career and technical education.
On the court, the Virginia Union Panthers defeated their CIAA divisional rivals, the Virginia State Trojans, 81-69 in the early game. The Panthers’ upperclassmen duo of Avery Jirmnson and Omar Briggs anchored the offense with 19 and 16 points a piece to bring their record to 2-7 on the season. With the loss the Trojans fell to 7-3.
The primetime matchup pitted the Howard Bison against their MEAC division rivals, the Delaware State Hornets, in what proved to be a suspenseful back and forth contest. The Trojans had two chances to win the game, at the end of regulation and with 5 seconds remaining in overtime, but missed on both, paving the way for a Bison victory in extra time. Howard’s Prince Okoroh led the way with 21 points and 16 rebounds improving the Bison’s record to 3-11 while the Hornets fell to 2-8 on the year.
Both losing teams will get a shot at redemption in rematches on January 19th when Virginia State plays Virginia Union and March 1st when Delaware State hosts Howard.
photos by Conor McDonough