Livingstone upbeat despite CIAA title loss

Published 12:10 am Sunday, February 28, 2016

By Laurie D. Willis

Livingstone College News Service

CHARLOTTE – Livingstone College lost its bid for a “three-peat” in the CIAA after losing the title game Saturday night 89-79 to Virginia State University inside Time Warner Cable Arena.

The Blue Bears had hoped to win the championship for a third, consecutive year and join Norfolk State and Virginia Union as the only other squads to “three-peat” in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament. But it wasn’t to be.

Livingstone won its first game of the tournament on Wednesday by defeating Lincoln University 90-77 before winning against arch rival Johnson C. Smith University 97-91 on Thursday in a thrilling, double-overtime contest. The Blue Bears beat Virginia Union 75-70 on Friday to earn a berth in Saturday’s championship game.

They played a hard game, but they didn’t finish at the end,” Livingstone alumnus Quincy Hailey, who earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2004, said in the game’s waning seconds. “But we got here four years in a row and I’m still proud of my Livingstone.”

Head Basketball Coach James Stinson, Jr. began his post-game comments as he always does, by saying to God be the glory. Then he quoted Psalms 27:13, which says, “I remain confident that I’m going to see the goodness of my God in the land of the living.”

Stinson said he was proud of his players, who entered the tournament with a losing 12-16 record but strung together three impressive victories for the right to play for the championship.

These young men have toiled and worked hard,” Stinson said. “I’m very proud of them. They came up against a very good team. Coach Blow is experienced. We came up short but not short of our goal which is making sure we graduate these student-athletes.”

Attending the press conference with Stinson were senior players Ty Newman and Daryl Traynham, who joined teammate senior Eric Dubose in making the All-CIAA Tournament Team.

They’ve got a great team,” Newman said of Virginia State. “They came out and they were hungry. They wanted it bad. They looked like the best team in the conference in the second half, and that’s how they came out.”

Traynham, whose 3-year-old daughter Karter sat on his lap during the press conference, thanked Stinson for giving him a chance to play Division II ball.

I just thank this guy to the left of me,” Traynham said. “He gave me an opportunity when nobody else did. I’m just thankful to even play in the CIAA.”

Livingstone President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr. couldn’t say enough about the team or Stinson.

I’m very proud of this team,” Jenkins said. “This week they overcame a Herculean challenge having to play double overtime in one game and having to play until midnight in the semi-final game, so I think they have done an outstanding job. One of the catalysts that helped get us there, Eric Dubose, was ill tonight and had to be played sparingly, so all of this demonstrates what a tremendous team we have,” Jenkins said.

Despite the loss, Jenkins said he’s hopeful for the future of men’s basketball at Livingstone.

Although we lost, I believe I can say that they gave it their best shot, and I believe that we all should commend them for having gotten to the finals in five out of the last six years, which is a feat in and of itself,” Jenkins said. “All Blue Bears should be proud. I’m proud of my coach, and I look forward to continuing the tradition of excellence that he has established for our basketball program.”

Mark Thomas, 2014 CIAA Player of the Year and a Livingstone graduate, said he was proud of the fact that despite their disappointing season, the Blue Bears fought hard in the tournament.

I’m just really proud about how they didn’t let the regular season affect their tournament play,” said Thomas, a point guard who led Livingstone to its first title in 2014. “It’s tough to win four games in four nights, but they didn’t give our crown away without a fight, and that’s all you can ask.”

Before the tip-off of the men’s game, it was announced that Livingstone senior guard Amber Curtis made the All-CIAA Women’s Tournament Team. Curtis scored 16 points and grabbed 6 rebounds in the Lady Blue Bears’ 50-45 win over Lincoln. She scored 13 points, grabbed 5 rebounds and had 3 steals in their 93-63 loss to eventual champion Virginia Union.

After the men’s contest ended, members of Livingstone’s Marching Band and members of the institution’s Student Government Association chanted L-C as the crowd began filing out of the arena.

It’s never a loss, no matter what,” said SGA Vice President Raven Sansbury, a senior political science major from Navarre, Florida. “LC fans always see our players as champions.”