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Livingstone men top Bowie State in CIAA Tournament

Livingstone men move on in CIAA tourney

Damante McNeill (34) was a key in Livingstone’s CIAA Tournament victory over Bowie State on Thursday night. … File photo by Wayne Hinshaw/for the Salisbury Post

Staff report

CHARLOTTE — Damante McNeill had a big second half, just when Livingstone needed it most.

With star guard Roger Ray suffering through a 4-of-15 shooting night, McNeill led the charge as the Blue Bears came from behind to defeat Bowie State, 79-74, in the CIAA Men’s Basketball Tournament quarterfinals at Spectrum Arena.

McNeill, a 6-4, 280-pound power forward, scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half and dropped in a layup with 4:30 remaining, giving Livingstone a 63-61 lead. The Blue Bears would not trail again.

Ray finally found his groove late and ended up leading Livingstone (17-11) with 19 points, thanks to going 8-of-10 at the foul line.

Ray, Jalon Lewis and Malik Smith hit free throws down the stretch to enable the Blue Bears to hold on and advance to Friday night’s semifinals against top-seeded Virginia State at 7:00.

Twin towers Lydell and Navar Elmore, both 6-9, were a defensive force throughout the game for Livingstone, along with McNeill and Kenny Grant. They dominated the middle and limited Bowie State (17-13) to a 35 percent shooting night (20-of-57).

Bowie State led at halftime, 31-29, thanks to sinking 12-of-16 foul shots. From the floor, the Bulldogs shot 31 percent (9-of-29) and made just one 3-pointer in six attempts.

Cameron Hayes, who scored 27 points in an 82-69 win over Livingstone on Jan. 7, scored 10 points in last night’s first half and finished the contest with a game-high 21 points.

Meanwhile, the Blue Bears struggled from the floor as well in the first half, making just 11-of-32 shots (34 percent). Star guard Roger Ray played 19 minutes in the first half, but was just 1-of-8 from the floor and scored only five points.

Interestingly, Ray also struggled in the January game at Bowie. The All-CIAA performer was held to 13 points that night on 3-of-18 shooting.

Still, LC managed to trail by just the two points at the break, thanks to seven points and four rebounds from Navar Elmore. The Bulldogs committed 12 turnovers, also helping the Blue Bears’ cause.

Lydell Elmore followed Ray in the Livingstone scoring with 13 points. He also led the team with eight rebounds. Navar Elmore scored 11 points. McNeill had six rebounds to go along with his 12 points.

Renardo Perry followed Hayes in the Bulldogs’ scoring list with 15 points. Davie Belle scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Saiquan Jamison scored only six points but pulled down a game-high 15 boards.

NOTES: Bowie had won in Wednesday’s first round, defeating Fayetteville State, 77-55. … Livingstone had a first-round bye.

BOWIE STATE (74) — Perry 15, Duffin 7, Belle 11, Jamison 6, Fleming 5, Route 4, Smith 5, Hayes 21.

LIVINGSTONE (79) — N. Elmore 11, Ray 19, L. Elmore 13, Grant 4, Carpenter 3, Lewis 6, Fykes 2, Smith 6, Handley 2, Harris, McNeill 12, Dupree 1.

Bowie State       31    43 —  74

Livingstone       29    50 — 79

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