College Basketball

Livingstone beats Va. Union, advances to CIAA title game

Livingstone is still alive and well.

The Blue Bears are playing in the CIAA championship game for the fourth straight year after beating Virginia Union 75-70 Friday at Time Warner Cable Arena.

The Blue Bears, seeded fourth in the South, will play Virginia State, which beat Bowie State 81-70.

“They were unwavering tonight,” Livingstone coach James Stinson said. “People asked about the stamina. The overtime games hurt us a bit and had us a little bit tired but they did everything they were supposed to do at night.”

After outdueling J.C. Smith in a double-overtime thriller Thursday, Livingstone (15-16) had enough energy to turn back Virginia Union, the North’s second seed. Despite falling behind 68-67 on Timonne Whatley’s runner with 1:25 left, the Blue Bears responded with guard Daryl Traynham outscoring Virginia Union 8-3 down the stretch. He started the rally with a jumper and a 3-pointer to seize the lead for good, then drained three of four free throws to ice the victory.

“It was a good shot,” said Traynham, who finished with 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting. “Like coach says, if it doesn’t go in, it’s a good shot. If it does go in, it’s a good shot. I just shot the ball with confidence and it went in.”

Both sides were efficient in the first half, with Livingstone nailing 53.1 percent of its shots (17-of-32) compared to Virginia Union’s 51.5 percent (17-of-33). The difference was in 3-point accuracy, where the Blue Bears went 7-of-14 compared to the Panthers’ 3-of-8.

For the second straight night, Livingstone’s bench was key, outscoring Virginia Union’s 40-21. Forward Ty Newman was the top reserve, tossing in 17 points and five rebounds.

Kory Cooley paced Virginia Union (16-14) with 29 points on 12-of-19 shooting, backed by Ray Anderson’s 18 points.

Virginia State, the North’s top seed, dispatched North No. 3 Bowie State with a late first-half push to grab a 34-24 advantage at the break. Neither side shot particularly well, but Virginia State made more free throws (31-of-47) than Bowie State attempted (20-of-29). The Trojans connected on 40 percent of their shots (22-of-55) compared to the Bulldogs’ 36.1 (22-of-61).

Three Virginia State players hit double digits, led by Elijah Moore’s 18 points, followed by Kevin Williams with 17 and Tyler Peterson with 13 points and team-high 11 rebounds.