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Belfield leads Livingstone over Lincoln

By David Shaw
sports@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY —Ramel Belfield was a human syringe Monday night. He gave the Livingstone men’s basketball team a much-needed shot in the arm.

The senior guard’s performance in an 87-70 CIAA victory against visiting Lincoln University was the pre-holiday gift his teammates will never exchange.

“Well, it was needed and well-deserved,” Belfield said after LC (2-4, 1-1) forced 27 turnovers, reeled in 21 offensive rebounds and won its first conference game. “We’re trying to finish the year strong.”

Belfield did his part. The six-footer from Roanoke Rapids shot 8-for-15 from the floor, drained six 3-pointers and scored a season-high 22 points — all in 22 minutes of playing time — helping the Blue Bears halt their second two-game losing streak of the season.

“Ramel is kind of like (former all-conference guard) Ty Newman,” LC coach James Stinson said. “All he wants to do is come off the bench and light a fire. He’s a vocal leader and plays with a positive attitude.”

Belfield connected on a pair of long balls just a minute-and-change apart in the early going, pushing the Blue Bears to a 15-11 lead. In the second half he measured and threaded a trio of 3-pointers within a three-minute span. His final trey came from two steps beyond the top of the key and provided a 74-51 lead with 6:33 remaining.

“I put in a lot of work this summer on my shot and mechanics,” said Belfield, who averages 14.5 points-per-game. “Tonight I just trusted in everything I did in the off-season.”

Before it turned into a convincing win, Livingstone had to fend off the pesky Lions (6-6, 1-2 CIAA). LC clung to a 25-22 lead late in the first half before Cameron Burhannon (17 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists) hit a 3-point splashdown from the left side and teammate Roger Ray (19 points, 3 steals) converted a pair of free throws for a seven-point lead at the half.

“We needed to take better care of the ball,” Lincoln freshman Deaquan Williams said. “We kept folding under pressure and getting beat to the ball. They had more bigs than us, but whenever we did break down their big guys, our guards weren’t quick enough to the ball.”

If Lincoln had any chance of prevailing, it evaporated as the second half unspooled. Livingstone used a 13-0 flurry to quickly turn a cordial sit-down dinner into an all-you-can-eat buffet. Ray kicked it off with a 3-pointer from the left side and followed with a steal and fast-break layup — all within the first 30 seconds. Then Burhannon found him with a 60-foot outlet pass that produced an uncontested layup and a 41-27 LC lead. When Belfield snapped off another 3-pointer just two minutes later, the Blue Bears led by 20.

“It was my teammates putting me in good position to score,” Ray said. “We all came out in the second half with a high energy level. We told ourselves to keep going and not get comfortable. Well, the coach wouldn’t let us get comfortable.”

Ray shot 7-for-14 from the floor and is averaging better than 20 points through six games. He finished his night with a well-placed ally-oop pass to 6-foot-9 freshman Navar Elmore and rattled in a fadeaway jumper from the right side in the game’s final minute. But it was the Belfield — the cagey middleweight who hit shots that most mattered — who provided perspective.

“I had a pretty good game,” he said with a smile. “But (Ray) put us on his back as the second half started. After that we never looked back. Everybody just followed his lead.”

NOTES: Lincoln completed a three-game road trip that began with a victory at J.C. Smith last Thursday and a loss at Winston-Salem State on Saturday. … Elmore contributed 10 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots. He’s rejected 17 attempts this season. … Belfield was 6-for-10 on three-point tries. … LC had a 34-11 edge in points-off-turnovers. … The Blue Bears visit West Georgia on Dec. 30, then open January with four consecutive road games. They return home Jan. 10 to face Bowie State.

LINCOLN (70) — Campbell 13, James 13, Williams 12, Markland 8, Saaba 8, Arrington 7, Camper 7, Bush 2, Page, Gouty, Kinsey.

LIVINGSTONE (87) — Belfield 22, Ray 19, Burhannon 17, N.Elmore 10, L.Elmore 6, Smith 5, Lewis 2, Livingston 2, McClendon 2, Patterson 2, Moore, Walker, McNeill.

Lincoln               27    43  — 70

Livingstone       34    53  — 87

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