Livingstone women beat Queens for third straight home win

Published 10:43 pm Tuesday, November 21, 2017

By David Shaw

SALISBURY —There’s been no place like home for the Livingstone women’s basketball team this past week.

The Blue Bears capped a three-game home stand Wednesday night with their third straight victory — a 69-58 decision over visiting Queens University.

“It is exactly what we needed,” coach Tiffany Silver said after Livingstone improved to 3-2. “Going on the road with that group of babies was kind of tough, especially playing against seasoned teams (West Chester and Bloomsburg). After that, we needed this home stand.”

Livingstone was paced once again by junior Zena Lovette, a 5-foot-6 guard from High Point who contributed 32 points and 13 rebounds.

“Here’s the funny thing,” Lovette said. “At four o’clock today, I walked into (Silver’s) office and told her I was ready and was going to get 30 points and 15 boards tonight. That was my prediction.”

While it wasn’t the gold standard for prognostication (see Joe Namath/Super Bowl  III), it was accurate.

“Zena literally walked into my office about four o’clock today and said, ‘Coach, I’m feeling it. I’m think I’m gonna have 30 tonight,'” Silver reported without prompting. “So I said, ‘Why not 40?’ She didn’t say anything about rebounds, but she wanted a double-double.”

Lovette had 20 points by halftime and finished her performance with a fast-break layup that closed the scoring in the waning seconds. She shot 10-for-22 from the field, including 6-for-12 on three-point attempts.

“We really didn’t have an answer for her,” second-year Queens coach Sarah Jansen said after the Royals evened their record at 2-2. “Any time there was a screen-and-roll, we didn’t get enough pressure on her. Lovette was tough.”

Lovette didn’t accompany the team on its season-opening road trip to Pennsylvania, but her home stand statistics were eye-catching. In victories against Claflin, Puerto Rico-Bayamon and Queens she poured in 68 points, grabbed 33 rebounds and had seven assists.

“She may have been rested,” Silver explained. “So it benefited her, but hurt the team.”

Lovette earned top billing last night but had a terrific supporting cast. Teammate Taylor Perkins shot 5-for-10 from the floor, scored 11 points and fueled a decisive 13-3 LC run late in the fourth quarter — when the Blue Bears turned a precarious 56-52 lead into a 14-point advantage.

“We were having a hard time getting her into the flow,” Silver said after Perkins scored nine points in less than two minutes. “She found it there.”

Livingstone junior Jade Porter provided burst and spark off the bench in the second quarter, when the Blue Bears used a 15-0 scoring spree to mount a 34-20 edge. She ignited the run with a banked-in 3-pointer from the left side that put LC ahead 22-20 with 6:15 remaining in the first half. Two minutes later, she threaded another 3-ball, this time without using the backboard, to make it 31-20.

“That’s my role, to come in and give energy to the team,” Porter said after shooting 4-for-5 from the floor — 3-for-4 from beyond the arc — and netting 11 points. “(Silver) told me to go in there and shoot the lights out. That’s what I did.”

Lovette finished the flurry with a 3-pointer from right in front of the Queens bench. The guests responded with a 12-2 run that bridged the second and third quarters and sliced the LC lead to 36-32. And though the Blue Bears regrouped to go ahead 49-40 after three periods, it stayed close until the last four minutes.

“We could have made it easier on ourselves,” freshman point guard Imani Payne said. “We were prepared and knew what they were going to do. It was just a matter of stopping them.”

NOTES: The Blue Bears had 18 offensive rebounds, producing a lot of second chances. … Perkins missed LC’s previous game with an ankle injury. She played 21 minutes last night. … Payne did the dishes, contributing 10 assists, but wore a post-game ice pack over her left eye after being elbowed in a last-second scrum on the floor. … Livingstone plays its next three games on the road but returns home for a matinee against Benedict on Dec. 9.

QUEENS (58) — Moore 2, Eanes 6, Turlington 8, Wang 7, Adepoju 19, Cunningham, Leavai 2, McNeese 14, Blatnik, Robinson.

LIVINGSTONE (69) — Green, Lovette 32, Searcy 8, Bland 2, Payne 3, Perkins 11, Bradley, Robinson, Foote 2, Porter 11.

Queens                           16    10    14   18 — 58

Livingstone                  17     19    13   20 — 69