Blue Bears still perfect at home after beating WSSU
SALISBURY — There’s just something about playing at home.
Livingstone rolled past growing rival Winston-Salem State 101-94 Saturday night in front of a standing-room only crowd at the New Trent Gym, to stay perfect at home on the year.
“The Livingstone Blue Bears are really, really enthused about having the opportunity to play at home,” LC head coach James Stinson said. “It’s because of our administration. They set the tone here and we just go come out here and play.
“Especially our students, they do a great job,” he continued. “They were really excited all night.”
The Blue Bears started slow, leading just 14-10 seven minutes in.
But sharp-shooters Jody Hill and Eric Dubose then checked and provided a spark to took over.
Dubose drilled back-to-back treys before Hill absolutely caught fire.
The Detroit native sank five straight 3-pointers, with his fifth one coming from the edge of the logo near midcourt, giving the Bears seven consecutive bombs.
Eric Mayo capped the charge with an emphatic one-handed, put-back dunk to push the lead out to 39-28 with 2:58 left in the half.
“Jody Hill did a great job of getting open shots in the first half,” Stinson said. “He was on fire at one point. He started drawing the defense and extending it, which gave us some lanes for Mayo to get a couple of layups.”
“Once I felt one go in, the rim just opened up,” Hill said. “The rim felt like a big ocean and I felt like I could knock them all down.”
Despite the deadly accuracy from behind the arc in the first half (9-of-22), Stinson said he doesn’t want the team to live-or-die from the three.
“We’re trying to stay away from living-and-dying with the three, but that’s their forte,” he explained. “They’re able to hit shots when they’re going. And when they’re not, we tend to get kind of stagnant. But we’re learning.”
The Bears shot 46 percent in the first half and took a 43-35 lead into the locker room.
The Rams regrouped in the locker room and battled back to tie the game at 44 two minutes in.
But once again, Livingstone knocked down some timely 3-pointers to regain control — one by Mark Thomas and one more by Dubose — that pushed the lead back to double-figures at 60-50.
Thomas then took over, scoring 18 of his 21 points after the break, while dishing out 10 assists to seal the win that gave the Bears control in the Southern Division at 3-1.
“Thomas and Hill are seniors so they know what the expectations are,” Stinson said. “I was really proud of what they were able to do. They kind of settled down because we’ve been in games like these. Lately, we haven’t been able to execute down the stretch.”
Hill led the Blue Bears with 24 points, while Thomas and Mayo each finished with 21. Dubose added 12 from behind the arc as Livingstone won its fourth-straight in the series.
“This is becoming a rivalry to a certain extent,” Stinson said.
“I really appreciate our fans and everyone in Rowan County. People are really starting to buy into what we’re doing at this institution,” he added.
LC (13-6, 6-4) turns its attention to St. Augustine (11-8, 4-5) Monday night.
WINSTON-SALEM STATE (94) — Jones 29, Bazemore 27, Wells 15, Ross 11, Desmore 9, Okam 3, Campbell, Scott, Caroway, Smith.
LIVINGSTONE (101) — Hill 24, Thomas 21, Mayo 11, Dubose 12, C. Johnson 8, A. Welch 7, Henry 5, D. Welch 3, Okam, Flint, D. Johnson, Bailey.
W-S State 35 59 — 94
Livingstone 43 58 — 101