Johnson C. Smith men’s basketball coach Stephen Joyner said his Golden Bulls’ 75-69 loss to Wingate on Monday night was typical of his team’s up-and-down season.
“We’ve been inconsistent and we played that way tonight,” Joyner said. “We got off to a good start and were able to get a little halftime lead, but we didn't play well down the stretch.”
The Golden Bulls couldn’t hang on to a four-point advantage at the break, shooting 4-for-18 from behind the 3-point arc and fading during the final minutes at Cuddy Arena.
Junior guard Raston Brown scored a game-high 15 points for J.C. Smith (4-4), which had a two-game winning streak broken.
Wingate (7-1) won for the second time in three nights behind 13 points from senior guard Ryan Daye and 12 points from sophomore center Keith Griffin.
Bulldogs coach Brian Good said the formula for his team’s success has been a modest one.
“We’ve been solid enough not to put two bad halves together,” he said. “We’re pretty talented, but we’re very young.” All but three players on the Wingate roster are either freshmen or sophomores.
For the most part, this game was as close on the scoresheet as it was on the scoreboard, where there were 10 lead changes and seven ties.
The Golden Bulls took their 34-30 halftime lead and extended it to their biggest advantage at 41-34 on a jump shot by Alandre Davis 2 1/2 minutes into the second half.
But Wingate used a 3-pointer by Daye and two more by freshman guard Zariq Lolar to tie the score at 45 with 14 minutes to play. Another 3-pointer from Terrill Hilliard put the Bulldogs in front to stay at 52-50 with 11 minutes left.
“They shot the 3-ball better than we did, especially in the second half,” Joyner said. “We took some poor shots and we didn’t play very good defense. We had hoped to get to the free throw line more than we did.”
The Golden Bulls made the most of those rare opportunities, going 5-for-5.
The closest that Johnson C. Smith got the rest of the way was 56-55 on a 3-pointer by Josh Linson with eight minutes to play. But the Bulldogs went on an 8-2 run to take their largest lead at 64-57 with 4 minutes, 46 seconds left.
Wingate hit 54.5 percent of its shots from the field (54.5 percent) in the second half.
“We showed some pretty good patience,” Good said. “We played pretty good inside-out ball, getting the ball in the paint before kicking it back outside.”
Linson and junior guard Diondre Pratt scored 10 points each for Johnson C. Smith. Lolar added 10 points for Wingate, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range. Hilliard scored nine, all in the second half.
Johnson C. Smith will host Queens at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Brayboy Gym. Wingate’s next game will be Dec. 17 at Mount Olive.