Bulldogs Defeat Livingstone 76-68 in CIAA Quarterfinal
By Gregory C. Goings
Bowie State Sports Information Director
(CHARLOTTE, N.C. – March 1, 2012) There will be no first-game loss for Bowie State University this season in the 2012 CIAA Tournament.
The Bulldogs handled business with a 72-68 men’s quarterfinal victory over Livingstone College at Time Warner Cable Arena. With the victory, the Bulldogs won their first league tournament game since 2008. They go on to play Elizabeth City
State University, the No. 3 seed in the Northern Division, in a semifinal game Friday at 7 p.m.
“We’ve been through too much to go out the first game,” said BSU’s Byron Westmoreland, who led his team with game-highs of 20 points and 10 rebounds.
The Bulldogs (22-5 overall) lost their first game in the tournament the past three years. They entered the tourney two of those years as division champions. On Wednesday, they entered their quarterfinal game as Northern Division champs. Their opponent was Livingstone, the No. 5 Southern Division seed who is a dangerous team.
The Blue Bears lost to Bowie State by five points in their only regular-season meeting. Their wins in the tournament came against Chowan (15 points) and Virginia State (two points).
In the first half against Bowie State, the Blue Bears held a slim 35-34 lead after a shaky start. The outcome was in doubt until late in the second half. Fatigue and the Bulldogs’ size began to wear down the smaller Blue Bears, who were playing their third game in three days.
Westmoreland hit two free throws with 1:22 left to give the Bulldogs a 65-55 lead. His free throws capped a 15-5 run by the Bulldogs. The Blue Bears continued to fight. Mark Thomas (22 points) canned two three-pointers to pull the Blue Bears within 68-
66 with 27 seconds left. This time, the Bulldogs would not wilt. All-CIAA guard Darren Clark (18 points, 6 assists, 7 rebounds) was 4-for-4 from the free throw line to shut the door on a Blue Bears’ comeback.
“Both teams played extremely hard,” Bulldogs’ head coach Darrell Brooks said. “Every game we’ve played against Livingstone has been tight. Today, we were able to string stops together and rebound the basketball.”
Najee White added 11 points and Jay Gavin scored 10 for the Bulldogs, who placed four players in double figures. With five players 6-foot-8 and taller, the Bulldogs outrebounded the Blue Bears 44-29. They grabbed 15 offensive rebounds which led to 20 second-chance points.
“In these [tournament] games, nobody seems to shoot well,” Brooks said. “We were the taller team. I told them it was OK to miss a shot and try to attack the glass for cheap points.”
Head coach James Stinson of the Blue Bears concurred that the Bulldogs’ height is tough to play against. The Blue Bears, who have one player over 6-foot-8, used their quickness to counter their taller opponent. They scored 21 points off 17 turnovers by the Bulldogs.
Nasir Austin added 15 points and three blocks while Trone Jackson scored 11 points for the Blue Bears, who end their season at 11-17 overall. They were considered dark horses in the tournament, the type of team capable of sending Bowie State home for another year. The Bulldogs were having none of that Thursday.