Johnson C. Smith looked like it was ready to get back on the right track.
The Golden Bulls switched their defensive coverage in the second half to pull away from Fayetteville State in a 97-78 CIAA South Division win Saturday at Brayboy Gym to stop a two-game slide and give the Golden Bulls a regular-season sweep.
“It was huge for me and the team to get back a little confidence,” said J.C. Smith guard Diondre Pratt, who scored 23 points with 8-of-14 shooting and hauled in seven rebounds. “Going into the stretch run of the season, it’s giving us confidence that we’re still in it and can still win it.”
J.C. Smith (11-10, 4-2) drew even with Winston-Salem State for the division lead by forcing Fayetteville State (10-12, 2-4) to rely more on perimeter shooting. After hitting 48.4 percent of their shots before intermission, the Broncos managed 37.5 percent in the second half while the Golden Bulls scored 15 points off 10 Fayetteville State turnovers.
“We were allowing in their screen and roll to come over the top into the middle,” J.C. Smith coach Steve Joyner said. “We changed that and took the screen and roll and sent it down the sideline. It affected them tremendously.”
The Golden Bulls picked up the offensive pace as well, improving to 56.3 percent in the second half to blast open a game they led 47-46 at halftime. Forward Stedmon Lemon led J.C. Smith with 24 points and center Alandre Davis added 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Three who mattered
Diondre Pratt: J.C. Smith guard scored 14 of his 23 points in the second half.
Stedmon Lemon: Golden Bulls forward pulled down nine rebounds in addition to 24 points.
Michael Tyson: Fayetteville State center led the Broncos with 19 points, 15 in the first half.
▪ J.C. Smith turned the ball over nine times but allowed only four points off miscues.
▪ J.C. Smith finished with 50.8 percent shooting (33-of-65), including 8-of-15 from beyond the arc (53.3 percent).
▪ After 11 lead changes and eight ties in the first half, there were two ties in the second.
▪ Fayetteville State connected on two of 11 3-point tries in the second half after hitting eight of 14 in the first.
▪ J.C. Smith snaps a two-game losing streak.
▪ Fayetteville State is 1-6 in its past seven road games.
They said it
▪ “We answered as a team today. I thought the team listened, I thought the team played well together. Those things are very, very important to us.” – Joyner.
▪ “The last game we played, they killed us on the inside, so we packed it inside and tried to make them beat us on the outside.” – Pratt.