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Livingstone men get back on track at Claflin, 77-62

Staff report

ORANGEBURG, S.C. — Livingstone shot the basketball so well here Monday night, the Blue Bears must have thought they were back at New Trent Gym in Salisbury.

It’s unusual for the visiting team to shoot better than the hosts, but that was the case as Livingstone snapped a brief two-game losing skid with a convincing 77-62 win over previously red-hot Claflin.

The Blue Bears made all but five of their 3-point attempts and missed just two free throws (16-of-18) as they improved to 16-9 overall, 9-7 in the CIAA and 7-3 in the conference’s Southern Division.

For the game, Livingstone also connected on 51 percent of its shots from the field, making 27-of-53. Couple that with a 35-28 rebounding edge and it’s easy to see how coach James Stinson’s club turned a nine-point halftime advantage into a double-digit victory.

Claflin, which came into contest on a five-game winning streak, shot just 37 percent (20-of-54) for the game and fell to 12-13 overall. The Panthers are now 9-9 in the league and 7-5 in the division.

Livingstone led at halftime, 39-30, but Claflin immediately pulled to within six points at 41-35, early in the second half.

Jumpers from Malik Smith and Lydell Elmore put LC back up by 10 points but Claflin later cut the deficit to just four points at 52-48, with just under 10 minutes remaining.

The Blue Bears’ Austin Harris had a layup and a 3-pointer to give his team some breathing room and then star guard Roger Ray took over. Ray, who scored a game-high 23 points, scored nine points down the stretch.

Livingstone slowly pulled away from the Panthers and O’Koye Parker’s 3-pointer gave the Blue Bears their biggest lead of the game at 75-59 — with just 39 seconds left.

Ray was solid throughout the contest, making 7-of-9 shots from the floor, including 5-of-6 from the 3-point arc. He also sank four of his five free throws, dished out five assists and collected three rebounds.

Three other Blue Bears were in double figures. Post player Kenny Grant scored 12 points, followed by Elmore with 11 and Smith with 10. Elmore also led the team with seven rebounds, while his brother, Navar, had nine points and five boards.

Brandon Davis led Claflin with 15 points, making 7-of-10 shots. Cornellius Reynolds added 13 points and Austin Lawton had 12 (10-of-10 at the foul line).

NOTES: Livingstone also defeated Claflin in Salisbury, winning 79-69 on Jan. 19. … Monday’s win lifts LC back into a first-place tie with Shaw in the division (7-3). … The Blue Bears return to action on Wednesday at New Trent Gym, hosting St. Augustine’s at 7:30 p.m., following the women’s game.

LIVINGSTONE (77) — N. Elmore 9, Ray 23, L. Elmore 11, Grant 12, Carpenter 4, Fykes 2, Smith 10, Handley , Harris 3, McNeill, Lewis, Parker 3.

CLAFLIN (62) — Reynolds 13, Thompson 8, Brown 8, Davis 15, Lawton 12, Hill, Moore 4, Jones, Johnson, Prichard 2, Britt, Rolle, Jenkins, Boles, Miles, Bussey.

Livingstone      39    38 — 77

Claflin                30    32 — 62

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