J.C. Smith coach Steve Joyner is challenging his Golden Bulls to grow up in January.
They took a step toward that goal on Thursday with an 87-77 win against Chowan in a CIAA game at Brayboy Gym. The Golden Bulls (8-7, 2-2) climbed over .500 with every starter hitting double figures and 57.1 percent shooting (28-of-49) from the floor. They also withstood a late Chowan charge that cut J.C. Smith’s 18-point advantage to eight.
“We’re saying the month of January we have to have good volume and sustained growth, especially maturity-wise,” Golden Bulls coach Steve Joyner said. “They understand that, they’re listening to that, but they’ve got to pull together to make sure it happens.”
J.C. Smith pulled well enough against the Hawks (8-5, 2-2). The Golden Bulls, led by guard Diondre Pratt’s 19 points and six rebounds, played with a sense of urgency in the first half. They also got forward Emilio Parks’ best effort since returning from knee injury in late December with 17 points, seven boards and four assists.
“We dropped a lot of games we shouldn’t have,” Parks said. “We definitely shouldn’t have seven losses, so we have to make up for that. We’ve got to start right now. That’s our goal.”
Freshman point guard Robert Davis was a capable facilitator for J.C. Smith with 14 points and eight assists, while center Alandre Davis added 13 points and Stedmon Lemon 12. But Chowan climbed into contention in the second half by deploying a full-court press that forced the Golden Bulls into mistakes.
Josh Mellette and Hank Edmonds each scored 20 points for Chowan.
“They forced us to try to create some turnovers,” Hawks coach Brett Vincent said. “The first half, they were just better than we were. All night they were better than we were and we didn’t shoot the ball well … and they mixed their defenses.”
J.C. Smith connected on 16-of-26 first-half shots to build a 44-30 bulge at the break. Pratt led the way with 11 points on 3-of-7 shooting.