Livingstone women win fourth straight game
By Dennis Davidson
SALISBURY — After Livingstone blew out Elizabeth City State on Thursday night, women’s basketball coach Tiffany Silver said her team was in a “good place.”
The Lady Blue Bears are still “there” after winning their fourth straight game Sunday afternoon at New Trent Gym, whipping highly-thought-of Virginia State, 78-63.
During the winning streak, Livingstone, which improves to 7-7 overall and 2-2 in the CIAA, has won by an average margin of 28 points. And the Blue Bears are doing it with eight players, after several departures during Christmas break.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about getting the win,” said leading scorer Deonna Young, a deadly 3-point shooter who prefers to come off the bench.
Young led Livingstone with 21 points, giving the junior guard 97 in the past four games, all as the sixth “man.” She came off the bench late in the first quarter and nailed three 3-pointers before halftime. But it was her running one-hander in the lane that banked into the goal at the third-quarter buzzer that gave the Blue Bears a nine-point lead and brought the house down.
Livingstone outscored the Trojans in that period, 20-8, turning a 35-33 halftime deficit into a 52-43 lead. In the final quarter, behind the scoring of Asia Green, Zena Lovette and Kenetria Redfern, the Blue Bears built a 21-point lead with four minutes left, before Virginia State (11-3, 3-1) whittled down the final margin.
Virginia State came into the game with the 13th-best defense in the nation, but coach James Hill said that it was his team’s offense that led to the setback.
“We just got out of what we were supposed to do” said Hill. “We didn’t want to get into a track meet with Livingstone, but we allowed ourselves to do just that. We’re a defensive-minded team and our thing is to stop people and then run our offensive set — and not get into a track meet.
“When you’re on the road, you’ve got to play defense first and we just got caught up on the offensive side of things, and allowed ourselves to get into a deep hole,” continued Hill. “And Livingstone is a good team and shoots the ball very well.”
The strong second half allowed Livingstone to overcome a second-quarter dry spell that saw a 13-0 VSU run. The Blue Bears then had a 9-0 run to start the second half.
“It’s always a game of runs and our runs were just a little bit bigger than theirs,” said Silver.
Lovette followed Young with 19 points for Livingstone, followed by 18 from Green. The surprised factor was the 5-10 Redfern, who scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds with inside play off the bench. She entered the game late in the first half when starter Cherokee Cardriche picked up her third foul.
“Redfern’s play was what we’ve been talking about,” said Silver, in her first year at Livingstone. “Getting an opportunity and making the most of it. She did a great job and only went in because of foul trouble. There was no need to change after that because we were flowing with the small lineup.”
Lovette, a quick guard who makes the offense go, played 33 minutes with no turnovers, grabbing 16 rebounds to go along with her 19 points.
“I just feel like my team depends on me, so I’ve got to do what I can,” said Lovette. “Sometimes, I do feel like I might try to do too much, but then the next play, we do seem to get back into our rhythm.”
VSU guard Nandi Taylor was the game-high scorer with 23 points. However, 18 of those points came in the first half and Green and others shut her down in the second half. Former Livingstone player Taylor Daniels scored 10 points for the Trojans.
Livingstone will try to continue the hot streak tonight, hosting Chowan at 5:30.
“Yes, we’ve got to hurry up and come back down, because CIAA play is night in and night out,” added Silver. “And we expect a totally different, but tough game against Chowan.”
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