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Men’s basketball: Livingstone suffers setback

SALISBURY — If Livingstone has you scratching your head this winter, you’re not alone. Fourteen games into its season, the defending CIAA champion has head coach James Stinson searching for answers after a 70-62 loss at home Saturday to Virginia State.

“I’m still trying to get a read on everybody,” he said. “Their roles and what everybody can do. We have it, but its a matter of getting everybody to accept their role.”

Livingstone (8-6, 2-3) never got on track and suffered its first loss at Trent Gym since 2013.

“It’s aggravating,” forward Eric Mayo said after harvesting nine points and six rebounds from 18 foul-plagued minutes. “We’re a better team than what we’re showing. We’re not finishing. We may have looked OK early on, but in the second half we were sluggish.”

The Blue Bears shot only 9-for-25 from the field in the decisive second half — and never led after senior guard Eric Dubose scored on a crowd-pleasing scoop layup with 17:45 to play.

“At the time I was a little out of my game,” he said after netting a team-high 16 points. “But I caught that ball in a flash and just tried to make a play. I was hoping to give the team a spark, but we didn’t take advantage.”

Virginia State did.

The Trojans (9-5, 3-2) made half of their 30 second-half shots and kept Livingstone at least an arm’s length. They placed three scorers in double figures, paced by senior guard Lamar Kearse’s 18 points on 6-for-12 shooting.

Former Catawba forward Tyrece Little contributed eight points and 10 rebounds.

“It was a good experience because we had lost two in a row,” Little said. “By the second half we had gotten all of our jitters out. We just ran our plays and the stops we got on defense were big. We wound up getting rebounds and not giving them second shots.”

Livingstone trailed throughout the second half, but inched as close as 66-62 before a last-minute lane violation gave the ball back to Virginia State.

“It’s a good win for us,” said Virginia State coach Lonnie Blow Jr. “They’ve got a lot of weapons, a lot of guys who can hurt you. But for the most part we stayed consistent, even though we left a lot of opportunities out there in the first half. We got it going.”

Livingstone, a team aiming for the national Division II tournament, never did. It converted only one field goal attempt in the last five minutes and was outscored 32-16 in the paint.

“Eventually we’re going to have to click and start playing,” Dubose said. “We’ve got to if we want anything.”

VA. STATE (70): Kearse 18, Parham 12, Leary 10, Little 8, Moore 6, Alers 6, Savage 4, Pankey 3, Jeffers 3, Peterson.

LIVINGSTONE (62): Dubose 16, Newman 9, Mayo 9, Jackson 9, Henry 6, Traynham 5, Williams 4, Flint 2, D.Johnson 2, Cole, Sanders, Harris, C.Johnson.

Va. State  30  40 — 70

Livingstone  33  29 — 62

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