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College basketball: Livingstone handles Hawks at home

SALISBURY — The perception is Livingstone’s men’s basketball team is struggling, but the reality is the Blue Bears are at the same place they were at this time last season when they went on to win the CIAA championship.

The Blue Bears played a terrific first half and held off Chowan for an 86-79 CIAA victory on Monday and took two out of three in a homestand at New Trent Gym against Northern Division teams.

“We wanted three out of three here, but two out of three is a start,” Livingstone coach James Stinson said. “Now we’re 3-3 against the Northern Division, and we also went 3-3 against the North last year. Now we’ve got to knuckle up, learn from our mistakes, learn from what we’re doing well, and get ready for the Southern Division.”

Livingstone (9-6, 3-3) plays the other five teams in the Southern Division home-and-home, starting at Shaw this Saturday.

The Blue Bears caught Chowan (9-6, 3-3) on the tail end of a brutal Thursday-Saturday-Monday road trip, but the Hawks jumped on top, 6-0, and Livingstone was blanked for four minutes.

“We were really flat,” Stinson said. “But our second group came in, gave us a lot of energy, got in the passing lanes for some steals and turned the tempo up.”

The 6-foot-7 David Williams, who transferred to Livingstone after starting three seasons at UNC Greensboro, led the charge. He went 6-for-6 from the field, mostly emphatic dunks.

“Coach wanted someone to give us energy off the bench, and I was blessed to be that person tonight,” Williams said.

Livingstone outscored Chowan, 17-3, in a five-minute stretch to take a 32-16 lead. Eric Mayo and Juwan Cole had three-point plays in that stretch. Then Cristian Henry, a returning big man, bounced off the bench and scored three straight buckets.

By halftime, four different Blue Bears had dunked. Livingstone had shot 58.8 percent from the floor and led, 49-30.

A key guy for Livingstone all night was aggressive 6-4 guard Ty Newman.  Newman poured in 24 points from all angles and created a lot of easy shots for teammates with his speed and savvy.

“There’s so much talent on this team that it’s going to be someone different every night,” Newman said. “We’ve still got a lot of bonding to do, but this was a good team effort.”

When Newman slashed for a bucket and then lobbed to Williams for a soaring jam, the Blue Bears led by 21 points with 10 minutes left to play, but the visitors heated up and made a charge. Livingstone’s lead melted to single digits, but Austin Harris took a charge, Eric Dubose hit a contested jumper, and Newman buried a 15-footer from the corner to lift the Blue Bears out of danger.

Josh Mellette scored 22 for the Hawks.

Livingstone has even more talent and a lot more size than it had last season. It’s just a matter of putting all the pieces together.

“We did a great job sharing the ball,” Stinson said. “But we’ve got to do better at making fundamental plays and ending ballgames.”

CHOWAN (79): Mellette 22, Powers 18, Buright 11, Bethel 9, Lopez 6, Smith 5, Edmonds 3, Brown 2, Buckhanon.

LIVINGSTONE (86): Newman 24, Williams 13, Mayo 13, Henry 9, Dubose 9, Cole 8, Traynham 5, Jackson 5, Harris 2, Flint, Sanders.

Chowan       30  49 — 79

Livingstone 49  37 — 86

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