Jan 19, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Shaw University shot only 42.9 percent from the floor - and a dismal 62.2 percent from the free throw line - on their way to a 76-70 loss to Livingstone in a game played Saturday afternoon at C.C. Spaulding Gymnasium. The loss snaps the Bears' eight-game winning streak.
The loss is the first regular season conference loss for the Bears in nearly two years. They last lost at Winston-Salem State on Feb. 21, 2011, with a 59-49 tally. Shaw drops to 12-5 on the season, 6-1 in the CIAA and 0-1 in the Southern Division. Livingstone improves to 13-3, 5-2 in the conference and 1-0 in the division.
The performance was out of character for the Bears, who had shot at 50 percent or better the last five games - over 70 percent in their win over Lincoln (Pa.) on Monday. Shaw hit only 21 of the 49 shots they took.
"I'm not going to put it off on ‘one of those nights.’ They (Livingstone) played a very solid defense," said Shaw head coach Cleo Hill, Jr. "They came in with a very solid game plan. I thought we were handling it. I thought we got it where we wanted to get it. We just couldn't hit free throws. I also didn't think that we executed as well as we could in the last five minutes."
The news was no better from the charity stripe, where the Bears hit only 23 of their 37 shots.
"That's an Achilles heel we have, our free throw shooting." said Hill. "It's something we're struggling with. It's not that we don't work on it every day - we probably need to work on it more. Right now, it's going to be a problem this season."
Defensively, the Bears did hold the Blue Bears to 47.6 percent shooting, but forced only five Livingstone turnovers.
"We're not a big pressure team. We don't try and take teams out of what they do," said Hill. "With a team like Livingstone, they were very deliberate in what they wanted to do. There wasn't any room for them to turn it over. They made two passes and got off a shot instead of five or six passes."
The game was close throughout without either team managing to gain a double-digit advantage at any point in the game. Livingstone's largest lead was seven points midway through the first half, while the Bears were only able to build leads of four points or less - with the last four-point lead coming with less than two minutes left in the game.
Shaw opened the game taking a four-point lead on two layups by Karron Johnson, but Livingstone answered immediately, scoring five straight. Johnson added a single free throw to knot the game at five - the first of nine ties on the afternoon. The lead would change hands 17 times in the contest.
Taurus Dortch hit a pair of free throws to give Shaw a 7-5 lead with 15:49 left in the first, but Livingstone responded with six straight points on their way to a 12-3 run giving them a 17-10 lead with 12:08 left in the half.
Shaw answered with a 9-2 run of their own, tying the game at 19 midway through the first.
The two teams played even for most of the rest of the half. With 1:51 left in the first, Junius Chaney tipped in a Derrick Hunter miss, cutting the Livingstone lead to one at 33-32. Livingstone countered with four straight, then Chaney hit a jumper in the lane to close out the scoring in the half and send Shaw to the locker room down three, 37-34.
The Blue Bears stretched their lead to six points early in the second half, and Shaw spent five minutes reclaiming the advantage. With 14:33 left in the game, Dortch hit a jumper off a pass from Latrail McCoy to give Shaw the 46-45 lead.
Shaw built the lead to four points on a fast break layup from McCoy with 11:48 left, 52-48.
Still leading by four midway through the second half, Shaw watched Livingstone mount a 6-1 run to claim a 56-55 lead when Anthony Welch sank a tip in.
With 4:03 remaining, Tyler Johnson gave Livingstone a 64-62 lead, but Shaw scored the next five points and took a 67-64 lead. The teams battled evenly, with Shaw reclaiming a four-point lead with 1:47 left when Karron Johnson hit a layup, was fouled and sank the resulting free throw to give Shaw a 70-66 lead.
Those would be the last points the Bears would score as Livingstone scored ten straight points to close out the game and claim the 76-70 win.
Johnson led the Bears with 14 points, while Chaney added another 13. Four Bears had eight points each: McCoy, Dortch, Hunter and Curtis Hines. McCoy led the team in rebounds with eight and he and Hunter paced the squad with three assists apiece.
Mark Thomas finished with 17 points for the Blue Bears. Jody Hill added 13 and Eladio Espinoza had 11. Espinoza came one rebound shy of a double-double, hauling in nine boards to lead Livingstone. Thomas and Tyler Johnson each had three assists.
The Bears return to action Wednesday evening when they travel to Winston-Salem State for a 7:30 contest. They return home next Saturday when they host cross-town rival Saint Augustine's. Game time is 4:00 p.m. at the C.C. Spaulding Gymnasium on the Shaw campus.