CIAA Basketball: Livingstone 82, Lincoln 60
By David Shaw
One knockout punch should have been enough for the Livingstone men’s basketball team Saturday night.
But it a took a second haymaker — delivered late in the second half — to drop visiting Lincoln University to the canvas in an 82-60 CIAA victory.
“The first time we got the big lead we didn’t bury them like we should have,” LC forward Darius Cox said at Trent Gym, where the Blue Bears (5-3, 1-1) snapped a two-game losing streak. “We weren’t very good at using the clock and working for high-percentage shots. And on defense we didn’t make them work for their buckets.”
Winning coach James Stinson wasn’t exactly turning cartwheels after Livingstone earned its first conference win. He was upset that his team team allowed a 21-point second-half lead to shrink to 66-57 with 4:31 remaining.
“We could have continued to go up and down the floor,” he said. “But more so, we wanted to make sure we got good, open looks. And we weren’t doing that. We were just getting dribble penetration, kicking and taking the first shot. We could have managed the clock better.”
That’s what point guards are for — and LC juniors Trone Jackson and Quintin Redfern provided room-temperature performances.
“They’re both very good kids, quality student-athletes,” said Stinson. “But sometimes they get ahead of themselves.”
It took a 16-3 finishing kick for LC to win convincingly. An earthquake jam by Cox — the fourth of his five in the game — triggered a 14-0 run that included Jackson’s fastbreak layup with 3:14 to play and sophomore Nasir Austin’s 12-foot fadeaway jumper that made it 74-57 with 2:36 to go.
“One thing I like about this team,” said Austin, a thick, 6-foot-6 forward who paced the Blue Bears with a career-high 20 points, “when the chips are down we stick together. When they made it a close game, we pulled together and played our best ball.”
Livingstone was equally magnificent during the late stages of the first half, when it held Lincoln (1-8, 0-2) scoreless for more than seven minutes and netted 13 straight to go ahead 28-15.
“They’re just a very good ballclub,” said first-year LU coach John Hill, who received a technical foul and was ejected with 14:02 remaining. “I give them the highest compliment. They were a lot better tonight.”
Ironically, Hill’s ejection coincided with Lincoln’s late-game charge. A minute after he was sent to the dressing room guard Denzel Mooney’s off-balance floater from the lane pulled the Lions within 19 points. Then came a 10-0 Lincoln run that included consecutive 3-pointers by Mooney, trimming the deficit to 57-47 with eight minutes left.
“Our whole team got motivated when our coach was ejected,” said Mooney, a Baltimore native who shot 9-for-19 from the floor and topped all scorers with 24 points. “He was telling us that we weren’t that tough. We wanted to prove that we were.”
It hardly mattered once Cox started jamming — he blew up the rim four times in the second half and finished with 16 points — and Austin began asserting himself under the basket. “We’re building chemistry around him, trying to get him going,” Stinson said.
Not to be overlooked was Jackson’s body of work. He converted 4 of 6 free throws in the final 1:36 and totaled 15 points, three assists and two steals.
“We definitely needed that kick in the end,” Stinson concluded. “What aggravates me is that we needed it at all. When we execute like we should, we’re like a well-oiled machine. When we don’t, when we take quick shots, I get frustrated.”
NOTES: Donte Durant (13 points) gave LC four scorers in double figures. … The Blue Bears visit St. Paul’s on Monday night.
LINCOLN (60) — Mooney 24, Hector 14, Jones 6, K.Smith 6, Mattavous 2, Glover 2, Kakulu 2, Oxley 2, E.Smith 2.
LIVINGSTONE (82) — Austin 20, Cox 16, Jackson 15, Durant 13, Johnson 7, Ford-Bey 5, Redfern 2, Taylor 2, Wilson 2, Boswell, Adams, Paul.
Lincoln 23 37 — 60
Livingstone 35 47 — 82