Livingstone evens record with win over Paine
By Dennis Davidson
SALISBURY — Livingstone placed four scorers in double figures en route to an 80-74 women’s college basketball victory over Paine College, here Monday night at New Trent Gym.
Sophomore forward Kyala Searcy pumped in 23 points and grabbed five rebounds to lead Livingstone while senior guard Amber Curtis added 17 points and eight rebounds. Curtis also had three key steals.
Guard Brittany Taylor had a double-double for the Blue Bears with 13 points and 11 assists. She also came up with four steals. Forward Toxiana Wilson scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
“An ugly win, but we’ll take it,” said Livingstone head coach Anita Howard. “Our chemistry is just still not where we’d like it to be, with all the injuries and everything. It’s been hard to have everybody at practice at the same time. But the plan is to be playing our best by tournament time next semester.”
Livingstone’s students are already on Christmas break, so less than 100 fans were in attendance last night. The lack of atmosphere didn’t seem to bother Livingstone, as the Blue Bears came out red-hot, scoring 24 first-quarter points. They led by nine points at the end of the period.
Paine got back into the game with an 18-3 run and by mid-second quarter, the Lions led, 28-27.
A layup from Searcy put the Blue Bears back on top and the home team went out to a 41-33 halftime lead. Livingstone connected on 50 percent of its shots in the first half (17-for-34).
The Blue Bears led by as much as nine points in the third quarter, only to see Paine cut the deficit to 55-52, heading into the final period.
Livingstone’s Kanesha Lankford’s layup put the Blue Bears ahead, 67-58, with six minutes left, but missed shots and turnovers by Livingstone let the Lions make one final push.
Paine tied the game at 68-68 with 3:34 left and took a 72-70 lead on a steal and layup from Chasity Mullins with 2:05 remaining. Searcy cooly knotted the score again with a baseline jumper at the 1:49 mark.
Curtis broke the tie for good with two free throws with 1:26 left, giving the Blue Bears a 74-72 lead. Searcy had a put-back and Taylor sank two fouls shots with 28 seconds left, making it 78-72. Guard Zena Lovette, playing in her first game for Livingstone, had a steal and layup that iced the issue with 11 seconds left.
Livingstone had played its first five games of the season with just seven players, so Lovette was a nice addition. There should also be more players added to the active roster in January.
“She’s going to be key for us,” Howard said of Lovette. “She’s been sitting out a couple of years, so she’s got to get back into the swing of things — but that was a good start for her. She plays hard.”
As far as losing several decent leads, mainly due to 26 turnovers for the game, Howard looked at it as growing pains.
“We’ve just got to execute better down the stretch,” she said. “The girls started doing their own thing a little, so we’ve got to work on the discipline to stay within the offense. And we have to figure out how to maintain our intensity throughout the game.”
Livingstone is now 3-3 and heads to Lakeland, Fla., for Florida Southern’s tournament. The Blue Bears play Lake Superior State on Thursday and Emmanuel on Friday. Both games have 2 p.m. tip-offs.
Paine, now 2-5, was led last night by Aalyiha Wright’s 18 points and 17 from Janisha Wilkerson.
PAINE (74) — Guilford, Watts 10, Boykin 11, Sharpe 13, Wilkerson 17, Alexander, Wright 18, Mullins 5.
LIVINGSTONE (80) — Wilson 10, Curtis 17, Searcy 23, Lankford 3, Taylor 13, Lovette 8, Gadson, Daniels 6.
Paine 15 18 19 22 — 74
Livingstone 24 17 14 25 — 80
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