- The Washington Times - Monday, March 14, 2005

The Bowie State Bulldogs have the added incentive of playing their biggest rival in tonight’s Division II regional championship.

“We are in the regional finals playing against Virginia Union,” Bowie coach Luke D’Alessio said. “You can’t ask for anything better than that.”

Bowie State won the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association regular-season title, and Virginia Union (26-4) won the CIAA tournament. The Bulldogs (26-4) will play host to tonight’s game at A.C. Jordan Arena because they are the region’s top seed. Bowie State upset then top-ranked Virginia Union in Richmond earlier this season.

The winner advances to the Elite Eight, D-II’s version of the Final Four, where eight regional champions contend for the national title in Grand Forks, N.D. Bowie State is shooting for its second appearance in three seasons after reaching the national semifinals in 2003.

The Bulldogs advanced to the regional final with an 84-72 win over Columbus (Ga.) State on Sunday behind 25 points from Letheal Cook, a 6-foot-10 senior who transferred from Division I Alcorn (Miss.) State. Third-seeded Virginia Union advanced by defeating South Carolina-Upstate 85-67. It placed five scorers in double figures, led by Antwan Walton, who had 12 points and 15 rebounds.

Bowie State has beaten Virginia Union eight of the last nine times, including a two-game sweep in the regular season. The teams were expected to meet for the CIAA tournament title before Fayetteville (N.C.) State upset Bowie in the quarterfinals.

“This is one of the best rivalries anywhere — Division I or Division II,” said D’Alessio, whose team is ranked third in the country. Virginia Union is sixth. “Someone asked me yesterday, ‘How do you feel about playing Union three times?’ I said, ‘It should be the fourth time.’”

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