Livingstone women fall to first-place Virginia Union

Published 10:07 pm Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Staff report

SALISBURY — The CIAA’s leading scorer was just too much for Livingstone here last night at New Trent Gym.

Virginia Union’s Kiana Johnson poured in 40 points to lead the Panthers past Livingstone, 90-81, in women’s college basketball action.

Johnson is at the top of the conference leaders, averaging 27.3 points per game. She is second in 3-point shooting at 40 percent. On Wednesday night, Johnson, a senior transfer guard from Michigan State, was 13-of-25 from the floor, including 3-of-6 from the arc. She did even more damage at the foul line, dropping in 11 of 12 shots.

The victory kept Virginia Union is a first-place tie in the Northern Division with Chowan. The Panthers are 17-2 overall and 9-2 in the CIAA. Livingstone, second place in the Southern Division behind Shaw, falls to 11-9 and 6-5.

Coach Anita Howard’s Blue Bears was back to its high octane offense after scoring just 53 points in Saturday’s win over Winston-Salem State. Livingstone shot 47 percent last night and stayed with the Panthers until late in the game.

Two free throws from Bria Patterson tied the game for Livingstone at 60-60 with 1:39 left in the third quarter. However, Johnson and Jamika Ruffin scored layups for Virginia Union and the Panthers headed into the final period with a four-point lead.

Livingstone’s Ariana De’Jesus fired in a jumper to start the last quarter making it 64-62, but that was as close as the Blue Bears would get. Virginia Union went on a 13-2 run to breathing room at 77-64 and the score was 81-67 with 2:50 remaining after a jumper from Johnson.

The Blue Bears traded baskets down the stretch but between Johnson and Karigan Awkward, the Panthers hit eight straight free throws in the final 50 seconds.

De’Jesus led Livingstone with 18 points, another good game since joining the team in January. Senior guard Amber Curtis followed with 14 points while Zena Lovette scored 13 points and Brittany Taylor added 10.

Following Johnson for Virginia Union, Taylor White scored 18 points, Lady Walker added 14 and Rahni Bell had 12. White, who leads the CIAA in rebounding, pulled down a game-high 12 boards, matching her average.

Curtis and Wende Foster grabbed six rebounds each for Livingstone.

The Blue Bears return to action on Saturday with a conference game at Shaw (Raleigh) at 2 p.m.

VIRGINIA UNION (90) — Johnson 40, White 18, Bell 12, Walker 14, Ruffin 4, Smith, Awkward 2.

LIVINGSTONE (81) — Curtis 14, Taylor 9, Foster 4, Lovette 13, Wilson 2, De’Jesus 18, Searcy 10, Patterson 7, Daniels 4, Fowler.

Virginia Union          18    25    21    26 — 90

Livingstone                23    17     20   21 — 81