CHARLOTTE, NC- The Livingstone College Lady Blue Bears hung on for a 50-43 win against Johnson C. Smith University on Wednesday evening to advance to the CIAA semifinal game. The Lady Blue Bears will take on The Lincoln University on Friday in Time Warner Cable Arena. Tip-off is slated for1:00pm on Friday.
Livingstone advances with an 8-19 overall record while the Golden Bulls end their season with a 20-8 mark on the year.
Cierra York drained 10 points in the win for Livingstone while grabbing eight rebounds (eight defensive). Wende Foster hauled in 10 rebounds (three offensive, seven defensive) for the Lady Blue Bears. Ashley Porter paced the Golden Bulls with 12 points and 10 rebounds (three offensive, seven defensive) in the setback.
Livingstone head coach Anita Howard commented, "We knew tonight was going to be one of those 'grudge' matches coming in. I knew Coach Joyner would have his team prepared. Johnson C. Smith is a team that is a good match up for us. It was an ugly win, but we will take it…I challenged the team to want it more than them."
Johnson C. Smith head coach Stephen Joyner Jr. noted, "I'm extremely proud of this program and where we are right now. We are in the third year of building a program that is going to be highly competitive in Division II. I thought our team gave a great effort tonight."
Amber Curtis drained a three-pointer for Livingstone at the 17:04 mark in the contest. Back-to-back buckets by Jones pushed Johnson C. Smith ahead 4-3 by the first media timeout of the game. Aliya Grinage answered with a layup for Livingstone before Larryqua Hall's jumper restored the narrow advantage to Johnson C. Smith.
Trailing 6-5, Alexis Fowler completed a three-point play for Livingstone and restored the lead to the Lady Blue Bears. Amena Brent's layup knotted the score 8-8 at the 12:56 mark. Ashley Porter's basket for the Golden Bulls with 12:14 on the clock led to a 6-0 run for Johnson C. Smith, leaving the Lady Blue Bears trailing 14-8.
Livingstone battled back to cut the deficit to two points (14-12) after two sets of made free throws by Precious Roberts and York. Hall netted two free throws at the 6:41 mark to extend the Golden Bulls' lead to 16-12 but York answered back on the Lady Blue Bears' next possession to keep Livingstone within striking distance.
Livingstone's Aliyah Grinage capitalized on two free throw opportunities to tie the score with 4:37 left in the first half. Johnson C. Smith responded with back-to-back three-pointers, one by Asha Jordan and one by Anika Jones to pull away 22-16 with 3:34 on the clock.
Lakendra Wilkerson's free throw for Johnson C. Smith with 2:23 remaining before halftime gave the Golden Bulls a 24-17 lead. The seven point advantage was the largest of the half for either team. Five free throws by three different Lady Blue Bears cut Livingstone's deficit to two points by the end of the first half.
Johnson C. Smith shot 27% from the floor in the first half while holding Livingstone to a shooting percentage of 16%. The Lady Blue Bears scored 13 of their 22 points in the first half off of free throws.
The second half was much like the first with each team vying for control of the momentum. Both teams exchanged baskets at the start of the second half. The Golden Bulls clung to a 27-24 lead at the 16:30 mark in the first half and used two free throws by Porter resulting in a 29-24 advantage by the first media time out of the half.
A jumper by York followed by Labrea Walker's three-pointer iced the contest 29-29 with 13:31 on the clock. Livingstone overcame a tied score four times from that point forward before securing a four point lead (41-37) at the 4:56 mark thanks to Precious Roberts' layup. Kaylah Gholson's basket followed by Anika Jones' free throw left the Golden Bulls trailing by a mere point with 3:22 on the clock. Curtis' jumper pushed the Lady Blue Bears ahead 43-40 on Livingstone's next possession.
Wende Foster tacked on a layup and York's free throw for Livingstone with 1:07 left to play gave the Lady Blue Bears a 46-40 advantage. Down but not out, Johnson C. Smith answered back with a three-pointer by Shanequa Phifer to shift the momentum back to the Golden Bulls with 45 seconds on the clock. A Johnson C. Smith foul resulted in two free throw opportunities for York. She capitalized on both attempts to extend Livingstone's advantage to 48-43. Walker added two made free throws to put the game out of reach, 50-43, resulting in the win for the Lady Blue Bears.