J.C. Smith likes sitting atop the CIAA South.
The Golden Bulls remained undefeated in division play with an 89-81 win against Livingstone Monday at Brayboy Gym to remain in first.
“I think we grew up a little bit,” Golden Bulls (10-8, 3-0) coach Steve Joyner said. “That’s what we’ve been talking about in our camp. We’re in first place and we realize where we are and see what we can do by continuing to win.”
J.C. Smith turned up the intensity late, outscoring Livingstone (8-12, 1-2) 29-21 over the final 6:29 to pull away. Stedmon Lemon scored 11 of his 23 points during that span while Diondre Pratt added six to finish with a team-best 24 points. The Golden Bulls connected on 59.3 percent (16-of-27) of their shots after intermission while the Blue Bears managed only 31.4 percent (11-of-35).
“We were looking for Alandre (Davis) a lot,” Pratt said of the Golden Bulls center, who scored 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting. “He opened a lot of stuff outside for me and Stedmon, so he made the game a lot easier from his hard work down low.”
Livingstone, which was paced by Darryl Trynham’s 22 points, tied the score at 60 on a pair of Trynham free throws, but J.C. Smith responded with baskets by Pratt and Lemon on consecutive possessions to grab the lead for good.
“They actually did a great job of executing down the stretch and that’s what wins basketball games,” Blue Bears coach James Stinson said. “Coach Joyner has a system and his kids stick with it and if they build any type of lead, they’re going to run their sets and attack the basket.”
Three who mattered
Diondre Pratt: J.C. Smith guard scored 14 of his 24 points in the second half and hauled down 14 rebounds.
Darryl Trynham: Livingstone’s guard hit 5-of-13 shots, including 4-of-9 from three-point range to finish with 22.
Stedmon Lemon: Overcame a slow first half to score 17 of his 23 points after the break.
▪ J.C. Smith never trailed in the second half and were tied twice. There were 11 lead changes and six ties in the first half.
▪ Livingstone’s reserves outscored J.C. Smith’s 26-39.
▪ Both teams struggled with free throws, with J.C. Smith going 26-of-38 compared to Livingstone’19-of-31.
▪ J.C. Smith has won three in a row.
▪ The Golden Bulls outscored Livingstone 46-28 in the paint.
▪ Livingstone’s Nasir Austin scored 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting.
They said it
“We haven’t been shooting as well, so we concentrate on getting good shots.” – Livingstone coach James Stinson on the Blue Bears’ struggles with three-point shooting.
“He stays on us every day keeping us in the mind set that we can pull it out this year if we keep playing hard and practicing hard.” – Diondre Pratt on Joyner’s encouragement to stay on top in the CIAA South.
“We needed this game and in the second half we acted like we knew where we were and where we were trying to go.” – Joyner.