Livingstone is still alive and well.
The Blue Bears are playing in the CIAA championship game for the fourth straight year after beating Virginia Union 75-70 Friday at Time Warner Cable Arena.
The Blue Bears, seeded fourth in the South, will play Virginia State, which beat Bowie State 81-70.
“They were unwavering tonight,” Livingstone coach James Stinson said. “People asked about the stamina. The overtime games hurt us a bit and had us a little bit tired but they did everything they were supposed to do at night.”
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After outdueling J.C. Smith in a double-overtime thriller Thursday, Livingstone (15-16) had enough energy to turn back Virginia Union, the North’s second seed. Despite falling behind 68-67 on Timonne Whatley’s runner with 1:25 left, the Blue Bears responded with guard Daryl Traynham outscoring Virginia Union 8-3 down the stretch. He started the rally with a jumper and a 3-pointer to seize the lead for good, then drained three of four free throws to ice the victory.
“It was a good shot,” said Traynham, who finished with 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting. “Like coach says, if it doesn’t go in, it’s a good shot. If it does go in, it’s a good shot. I just shot the ball with confidence and it went in.”
Both sides were efficient in the first half, with Livingstone nailing 53.1 percent of its shots (17-of-32) compared to Virginia Union’s 51.5 percent (17-of-33). The difference was in 3-point accuracy, where the Blue Bears went 7-of-14 compared to the Panthers’ 3-of-8.
For the second straight night, Livingstone’s bench was key, outscoring Virginia Union’s 40-21. Forward Ty Newman was the top reserve, tossing in 17 points and five rebounds.
Kory Cooley paced Virginia Union (16-14) with 29 points on 12-of-19 shooting, backed by Ray Anderson’s 18 points.
Virginia State, the North’s top seed, dispatched North No. 3 Bowie State with a late first-half push to grab a 34-24 advantage at the break. Neither side shot particularly well, but Virginia State made more free throws (31-of-47) than Bowie State attempted (20-of-29). The Trojans connected on 40 percent of their shots (22-of-55) compared to the Bulldogs’ 36.1 (22-of-61).
Three Virginia State players hit double digits, led by Elijah Moore’s 18 points, followed by Kevin Williams with 17 and Tyler Peterson with 13 points and team-high 11 rebounds.