Charlotte, N.C. – Johnson C. Smith led rival Livingstone by as many as 16 points, but had to withstand a late Blue Bear rally to take a 108-106 CIAA win in front of a capacity crowd at Brayboy Gym.
At the start, neither team could build a significant lead, as Livingstone claimed a 13-8 lead on a Ty Newman jumper, but JCSU regained the lead at 16-15 thanks to a Diondre Pratt driving layup. He then hit a pair of free throws to make it 18-15. Livingstone responded when Hakeem Jackson had a two-handed slam, but was called for a technical for hanging on the rim. JCSU capitalized by hitting both free throws to bring it to 20-17. Markell Lotharp had a tip-in followed by a three pointer gave JCSU the 25-20 lead. Pratt would extend the JCSU lead to 27-20 following a tip-in of his own at the 12:20 mark.
Livingstone’s Jackson would nail a three pointer to make it 29-25 and would bring the Blue Bear crowd to their feet with an alley-oop slam to draw Livingstone to within four at 31-27. Following a Lotharp jumper, Livingstone was then able to draw within three at 33-30 with another three pointer from Newman, his second of the game.
JCSU drew a foul and Stedmon Lemon made true on two free throws to extend the lead to 35-30.
Up 39-35, JCSU’s Pratt would throw down a highlight reel one-handed jam following a Livingstone turnover that erupted the JCSU crowd, making it 41-35. Livingstone would close to 41-39 following an Eric Dubose jumper with 3:04 remaining. JCSU’s Robert Davis, IIIwould hit two free throws and would follow that with a jumper to make it 45-41 with 1:25 left.
After a Livingstone miss, Pratt again wowed Brayboy with an alley-oop from Josh Linson with 17 seconds left. Livingstone rushed a shot and JCSU was able to push ahead and draw a foul, sending Pratt to the line, where he knocked down two free throws to provide the 49-41 halftime margin.
Livingstone would score the first three points of the second half on a layup from Eric Mayo. Mayo was fouled on the play and went on to hit the free throw, drawing to within 49-44.
Down 53-51, Livingstone had an opportunity to take the lead, but Juwan Cole’s three pointer was off the mark, giving JCSU the ball. The Golden Bulls were not able to take advantage, turning the ball back over on a traveling call. The Blue Bears were again unable to draw closer, missing a jumper and fouling on the rebound. JCSU then got a jumper from Lotharp to extend the lead once again to 55-51.
Eric Dubose got a jumper to go for Livingstone, but Emilio Parks flushed a one handed jam to make it 57-53 with 15:39 left.
Parks hit the second of two free throws following a foul to put the Golden Bulls up 62-53 at 13:50, their largest lead on the afternoon. Parks then delivered another one-handed slam on an assist from Lemon to make it 64-53 at 13:36.
Parks extended the lead on his third dunk on as many possessions, making it 68-55 JCSU with 12:01, forcing Livingstone to call a 30 second timeout. Out of the timeout, Livingstone would get a tip-in bucket from Darresse Johnson to make it 68-57 JCSU. Livingstone drew to 69-61 on an Eric Dubose jumper, but JCSU’s Lemon would can a jumper from the free throw line to make it a 10-point cushion once more.
JCSU junior Stedmon Lemon would drive baseline and throw down a two-hander of his own to make it 75-67 JCSU at the 9:16 mark. Livingstone would then turn it over for the 17th time. The Golden Bull lead would swell to 79-69 when Lemon got a layup and was fouled at the 8:11 mark. His free throw made it 80-69.
The Golden Bulls would lead by as many as 15 points late, but Livingstone made a late game charge to make it interesting. With JCSU up 97-82, the Blue Bears would go on a 19-6 run over the next 2:31 to make it 103-101 with only 29 seconds to play.
JCSU’s Stedmon Lemon would add two free throws to make it 105-101 with 19 seconds to play, but Livingstone would make it a one possession game when Ty Newman hit a driving layup to make it 105-103.
Livingstone was forced to foul and JCSU freshman Robert Davis, III made it a 107-103 lead after two free throws with 4.7 left. On the next trip down the floor, the Golden Bulls were whistled for a foul on a three pointer, putting Eric Dubose on the line for three shots. Dubose calmly hit all three shots, making it 107-106. Livingstone then fouled JCSU’s Markell Lotharp putting him on the line with 1.7 seconds remaining. Lotharp hit the first making it 108-106, but missed the second. Livingstone rebounded and drove up the floor, but Robert Flint’s long three pointer was off the mark at the buzzer, giving JCSU the win.
The 108 points was the most scored by JCSU since a 109-61 win over St. Paul’s on January 11, 2005.
The Golden Bulls had five players in double figures, including four players with 20 points or more. Senior Markell Lotharp led the way with 25 on 8-13 shooting, including two three pointers. Senior Emilio Parks had 22 on a 10-15 effort from the field. Diondre Pratt had 21 and seven rebounds while Stedmon Lemon finished with 20 points and a team high eight rebounds. Freshman Robert Davis, III rounded out the double figure scorers with a career-high 17 points.
Livingstone got 29 points from Ty Newman, who shined from the three point line, going 6-8. Eric Dubose had 27 for the Blue Bears while teammates Hakeem Jackson and Eric Mayo finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The loss drops Livingstone to 14-9, 8-6 in CIAA play while JCSU improves to 13-12, 7-7 in league play.