College basketball: Livingstone men 82, ECSU 79 (OT)
By David Shaw
Livingstone’s new blood must have been out for blood Saturday night.
Led by fresh faces Jarred Stockton and Aaron Caruthers, the Blue Bears edged visiting Elizabeth City State 72-69 in overtime to win their CIAA men’s basketball opener.
“This is probably the kind of game we’d have lost last season,” sixth-year coach James Stinson said. “But with these new guys, we forget the past. All the past does is help us understand the future. Right now we’re just building on what we have.”
LC (1-2) has itself a hard-earned victory against a team picked to finish second in the conference’s East division. But don’t tell Stockton, a transfer from Jacksonville University who paced Livingstone by shooting 8-for-13 from the field, netting a game-high 20 points and snagging 13 rebounds.
“I’m trying to lead the best I can,” the 6-foot-5 junior said. “It was late in the game, and I turned to them and said, ‘I’m not losing this game.’ We needed to come together as one, and we did.”
There were nine lead changes in the second half ó and 13 total. ECSU (1-1, 0-1) built a seven-point lead late in the first half but led only 25-23 at the break thanks to Stockton’s putback at the buzzer.
The Blue Bears trailed 40-34 midway through the second half before Caruthers began working his magic. A senior transfer from the University of North Florida, he swiped the ball and drove for a fastbreak layup to put LC ahead 44-42 with 7:30 to play.
“Aaron does a good job driving to the basket,” Stinson said. “We want to make sure that he keeps his head up and looks when he drives so he can kick out to the left and kick out to the right.”
Livingstone seemingly had the game won in regulation when Stockton knocked down a 3-pointer ó his third of the second half ó to put the hosts up 60-56 with less than a minute remaining. It was 61-58 when Caruthers went airborne to block a 3-point attempt from the right side by EC’s Marquie Cooke.
“He never gave up on that play,” Stinson said. “Aaron’s a smart young man. He’s a 4.0 student. We kind of expect him to make big plays.”
During a scramble for the loose ball Cook fouled Caruthers, who promptly missed a pair of free throws that could have given Livingstone a four or five-point lead.
“I was cramping up,” he said after contributing 15 points and five assists. “It affected my follow through, but that’s no excuse.”
The shot of the game came with 1.8 seconds remaining in the second half when ECSU’s Quintin Spady banked home a 3-pointer from the left side to tie the score.
“I was just concentrating on fundamental things and shooting the way I’m supposed to,” he said after leading the Vikings with 16 points.
It wasn’t all Caruthers in the OT, but the LC guard scored seven of the Blue Bears’ 11 points. He drove the right side for a layup with 3:57 to play. After a three-point play put ECSU ahead 66-65, he penetrated from the left elbow for another layup with 2:30 left. Finally, he maneuvered down the lane for a lay-in and a 69-66 lead with 1:39 to go.
“I felt I had to make up for missing those free throws,” Caruthers said. “As a team we won it, we gave it back and we got it back. We never lost our focus. It shows that we’re mentally tough. There’s no pressure for a well-prepared team.”
ECSU (69) ó Spady 16, Cooke 12, Price 10, Bivens 10, Wright 6, Abraham 6, Johnson 6, Sam 3.
Livingstone (72) ó Stockton 20, Caruthers 15, Cannon 12, Durant 12, Darden 9, Henry 2, Johnson 2, Kimber, Ford. Wilson, Taylor.
Eliz. City State 25 36 8 ó 69
Livingstone 23 38 11 ó 72
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