Charlotte, N.C. (Feb. 25, 2016- Reigning two-time CIAA Tournament Champion Livingstone College secured a spot in the CIAA Tournament semifinal with a 97-91 double overtime victory over Johnson C. Smith University on Thursday evening. The Golden Bulls entered the contest as the No. 1 seed out of the CIAA Northern Division with the Blue Bears as the No. 4 seed from the Southern Division. Livingstone advances to semifinal play with a 14-16 overall record while Johnson C. Smith’s season comes to an end with a 14-12 mark.
James Stinson, Head Coach at Livingstone College commented, “The game was a hard fought game. The thing I’m most proud of is that our men kept the faith and kept the persevering even when I felt myself wavering. They never doubted the process and never stopped working, which is why we got the win.”
Johnson C. Smith Head Coach Stephen Joyner Sr. noted, “I’m very pleased that our five seniors were able to lead us this far. It’s a great testament to their growth and development. Hats off to Livingstone College– we thought we had them at least once or twice…they have a ball club that’s very mature. They don’t give up and they don’t quit and that was evident tonight.”
Diondre Pratt led all players in the contest with 22 points and hauled in a game-high 17 rebounds (seven offensive, 10 defensive). Alandre Davis added 10 points with Robert Davis netting 19 points. CIAA Player of the Year Stedmon Lemon and Joshua Linson each added nine points for the Golden Bulls in the setback.
Eric Dubose and Ty Newman each drained 21 points in the victory for Livingstone. Nasir Austin and Daryl Traynham added 19 points and 16 points, respectively. Austin tallied 15 rebounds (three offensive, 12 defensive) with Newman adding 13 rebounds (three offensive, 10 defensive).
Johnson C. Smith raced to a 6-0 lead at the start of the contest before Trynham’s three-pointer cut the Golden Bull lead in half by the 17:38 mark. Another 6-0 run by Johnson C. Smith left Livingstone trailing 12-3 with 14:08 on the clock. Newman hit a three-pointer on the next possession before A. Davis hit two free throws for the Golden Bulls, giving Johnson C. Smith a 14-6 edge.
Newman answered with a three-pointer to shift the momentum back in favor of the Blue Bears. At the 12:15 mark, with the Golden Bulls leading 16-11, R. Davis hit a layup for Johnson C. Smith, eventually scoring the next seven straight points for the Golden Bulls. Livingstone answered with a three-pointer by Robert Flint and a jumper by Austin, putting the Blue Bears within two points (18-16). R. Davis responded with a bucket for Johnson C. Smith but Flint drained a layup on the Blue Bears’ next possession to make the score 20-19.
After exchanging free throws, the Golden Bulls used a 6-0 run to pull away 27-20 by the 6:17 mark. Newman stopped the momentum with a layup for the Blue Bears but Pratt’s bucket pushed Johnson C. Smith ahead 29-22. Livingstone was unable to recover from the momentum shift and trailed by as many as eight points (32-24) with 3:29 remaining in the half.
The Golden Bulls and Blue Bears exchanged baskets down the final stretch of the first half with Johnson C. Smith carrying a 36-29 lead heading into halftime.
Livingstone came out firing at the start of the second half, using an 8-0 run to take their first lead of the game (37-36) off of Austin’s jumper at the 17:51 mark. Johnson C. Smith responded with a 10-0 over the next 1:20 to take a 46-37 lead with 16:29 remaining in the game. Both teams exchanged baskets over the next five minutes of play. Livingstone battled to remain within striking distance but Johnson C. Smith’s lead was too much for the Blue Bears to overcome.
A tip-in by Pratt with 10:33 left in the game left Livingstone trailing 58-47 and gave the Golden Bulls their largest lead of the contest (11 points). After nearly two minutes of scoreless play, Newman made a jumper for Livingstone and Dubose added a layup to cut the Golden Bull lead to seven points (58-51) at the 7:20 mark.
Dubose added back-to back jumpers for Livingstone, capping an 8-0 run for the Blue Bears to make the score 58-55 with 6:13 remaining in the contest. A bucket by Davis and two free throws by Lemon gave the Golden Bulls some breathing room, but Livingstone refused to go away quietly as Traynham drained a three-pointer at the 5:27 mark to leave Johnson C. Smith hanging on to a 62-58 advantage. A Golden Bull turnover led to a jumper for Newman, cutting the deficit two points. After a missed three-pointer by Johnson C. Smith, Newman took matters into his own hands, grabbing a defensive rebound and scoring a layup to knot the score 62-62 with 4:34 remaining in the game.
A dunk by Austin for Livingstone gave the Blue Bears their second lead of the game and a narrow 64-62 lead at the 4:16 mark. Austin tacked on two free throws two minutes later, leaving Johnson C. Smith trailing 66-62. With the Blue Bears holding a 68-64 advantage with 1:21 remaining in the game, a dunk by Pratt followed by Michael Bowman‘s pair of free throws knotted the score 68-68.
Dubose gave the Blue Bears the go-ahead with 27 ticks on the clock only to have Robert Davis answer with a layup to tie the score 70-70 with six seconds remaining. Austin appeared to have drained the game-winning shot for Livingstone at the buzzer, but after review, the game continued into overtime.
After exchanging baskets at the start of the overtime period, Joshua Linson drained a three-pointer and added a layup to push the Golden Bulls ahead 79-74 with 2:24 left in the game. Davis’ jumper extended the Golden Bulls’ lead to 81-75 before three free throws by Traynham cut the Livingstone lead to three points (81-78). With Livingstone clinging to an 83-80 advantage with less than one minute left in the game, Jimmy Wilson hit a free throw and a Golden Bull foul called Wilson back to the line to shoot two. He split at the line to knot the score 83-83 with 49 seconds left in the game.
Johnson C. Smith turned the ball over on their next possession and a Golden Bull foul sent Dubose to the line with 4.6 ticks on the clock. He sank both free throws to send the Blue Bears ahead 85-83 but after a goal-tending call in favor of the Golden Bulls sent the game into double overtime, 85-85.
Austin opened the double overtime period with two made free throws with Malik Ford answering with one of his own. Austin tacked on two additional free throws to push the Blue Bears ahead 89-86. Back-to-back layups by Pratt brought the Golden Bulls within one point before Austin’s layup gave the Blue Bears a 91-90 advantage. Robert Davis hit a free throw to knot the score 91-91with 1:11 left in the game. Traynham dug deep for a three-pointer to give the Livingstone the advantage and later tacked on two free throws, leaving the Golden Bulls trailing 96-91 with 17 seconds on the clock. Belfield’s free throw solidified the 97-91 victory for the Blue Bears and secured Livingstone a spot in Friday’s semifinals.
The Blue Bears advance to semifinal action and take on the winner of Thursday’s Virginia Union University/Shaw University quarterfinal match-up. Tip-off for Friday’s semifinal contest is slated for 9:00pm.