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College men’s basketball: Livingstone wins semifinal

Staff report

Livingstone men’s coach James Stinson talked last Saturday about his talented team underachieving at times this season, but the Blue Bears, who have melded a conglomeration of D-I  transfers with their returning players, are achieving at the right time.

Livingstone marched into the CIAA  Tournament men’s championship game by beating Bowie State 83-65 in a semifinal on Friday at Time Warner Cable Arena.

“Livingstone did a great job tonight and beat us in every facet of the game,” Bowie State coach Darrell Brooks said.  “Early on, they got the ball inside, and I think our carelessness with the basketball led to some easy looks inside for them.”

Bowie State was generally considered the best team in the CIAA this season, but the Blue Bears avenged  a one-point loss to Bowie State and will meet rival Winston-Salem State for the title and a berth in the Division II playoffs on  Saturday at 7 p.m.

Livingstone and Winston-Salem State staged a tremendous battle last Saturday at Salisbury’s New Trent Gym, overcoming an 18-point deficit late to stun the Rams.

Ty Newman scored 18 points for the Blue Bears.  Daryl Traynham had 15, Eric Mayo scored 12, and Eric Dubose had 10.

Livingstone led 19-7 early against Bowie State and pushed to a 29-14 edge when Traynham converted a three-point play.

“I think the guys came out with a vision and played hard from the beginning,” Stinson said. “I think we were able to score inside a little bit more than we’re used to.  We also did well with not turning over the ball as much.”

David Williams had a tip-in at the horn for a 50-38 halftime lead.  Livingstone, which has a powerful inside game, had 33 points in the paint in the first half.

Bowie State made several runs in the second half. A run early in the second half was halted by a  Hakeem Jackson dunk.

Bowie State fought within 64-58 with 7:08 remaining, but Traynham made a huge play, sticking back  his own missed free throw for a 67-58 lead.

Livingstone (17-9)  got a tip-in from Newman and two free throws by Jackson to rebuild its lead and made 10 free throws down the stretch.

Bowie State shot only 32.2 percent and made 21 turnovers. Justin Beck led Bowie State (22-8) with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Cameron Knox scored 17.

“We knew Bowie would make a run with Cameron Knox (CIAA Player of the Year),” Stinson said.  “But out guys never  wavered.  I thought they would panic, but we were able to extend the lead.  We were able to use our depth and we stayed consistent and were able to hit free throws toward the end.”

Now Livingstone gets a chance to defend the championship it won last season when it was led by senior guards Jody Hill and Mark Thomas.

Stinson didn’t know if the Blue Bears could get back to this point without those two, but here they are.

“For the community of Salisbury and Livingstone College, our alumni and fans, we wanted to build our program into a winner and that was our goal,” Stinson said.  The expectations from our community and fans are to win another one.”

Bowie State has a good chance to get an at-large bid to the D-II tournament.

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