Livingstone’s Blue Bears are still kings of the CIAA.
A year after earning the school’s first championship, the Blue Bears duplicated the feat Saturday with a 106-91 win against South Division rival Winston-Salem State at Time Warner Cable Arena. Livingstone (19-9), the South’s second seed, took the initiative to No. 1 Winston-Salem State (18-10).
“It’s a great day for Livingstone basketball,” Blue Bears coach James Stinson said. “I think the guys actually came out with purpose. I loved their focus from the beginning of the game all the way through.”
Five Livingstone players scored in double figures, paced by Daryl Traynham’s 23 points off the bench and Shelby native Eric Mayo’s 22 on 8-of-11 shooting and seven rebounds. Eric Dubose added 18 points for the Blue Bears, who connected on 57.9 percent (33-of-57) of their shots. Livingstone’s reserves outscored Winston-Salem State’s 44-27 and turned 20 Rams turnovers into 30 points.
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“I wanted to have a strong night,” Dubose said. “I wanted to be a leader for these guys, so if I had a feel for a shot and I thought it was good, I’d take it.”
WyKevin Bazemore paced Winston-Salem State with 24 points, including 16-of-20 from the free throw line while Terrell Leach scored 23 on 8-of-13 shooting in a reserve role.
Livingstone led by double digits early in the second half, but Winston-Salem State rallied to within 75-69 on a Marquez Jones basket. The Blue Bears responded with a 12-5 run to create breathing room and take the fight out of Winston-Salem State down the stretch. The Rams hit 60.7 percent of their shots (17-of-28) after halftime, but couldn’t cool Livingstone, which nailed 57.7 percent of its field goal tries (15-of-26) during that span.
“We’ve had our moments before when we start to turn the basketball over or start freelancing instead of staying with the script, but overall they persevered and were able to take care of the job at hand by bringing home the CIAA championship,” Stinson said.
Nine Blue Bears scored in the first half as Livingstone used its depth to set the tone for a 46-36 bulge at the break. Dwight Williams and Dubose each scored eight points for Livingstone, which shot 58.1 percent (18-of-31) from the floor compared to Winston-Salem State’s 43.3 percent (13-of-30). Outside of Leach’s 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting, the Rams struggled to keep pace with Livingstone.