Saturday, February 27, 2016

CIAA Tournament: Two-Time Defending Champion Livingstone Tops Virginia Union 75-70, Advances to Finals

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina  — Guard Daryl Traynham swished a huge three-pointer to break a tie with 38 seconds left and hit two free throws with one second left to ice the game as Livingstone outlasted Virginia Union 75-70 in the CIAA Tournament semifinals to reach their fourth consecutive men's basketball final at Time Warner Cable Arena on Friday, Feb. 26, 2016.

The two-time defending CIAA champions will take on Virginia State in Saturday's championship game at 7 p.m. The contest will be televised live on ESPN3 and shown on tape delay at 10 p.m. on ESPNU.

Traynham's three-pointer snapped a 69-69 tie after guard Ray Anderson made a free throw with 54 seconds left. John Mitchell of the Panthers sliced the Blue Bears' lead to two points after Traynham's trey with a free throw, but Traynham answered with a free throw with five seconds left. Traynham put the game away with his final two free throws after the Panthers committed a turnover.

Traynham scored nine of his game-high 19 points in the final two minutes. His free throw at the 1:55 mark broke a 66-66 tie and his jumper with 1:23 left put the Blue Bears (15-16 overall) ahead after the Panthers led 68-67 on guard Timonne Whatley's basket.

"Like coach [James Stinson] says, if it doesn't go in, I'm going to fuss you out," Traynham said. "If it does go in, then it's a good shot. I shot the ball with confidence and it went in."

Forward Ty Newman added 17 points for the Blue Bears, who had six players score seven or more points. Guards Juwan Cole and Eric Dubose both scored nine points for the Blue Bears, seeded No. 4 in the Southern Division.

Guard Kory Cooley of the Panthers (16-14 overall) led all scorers with 29 points. Anderson added 18 points and 12 rebounds and forward Tavon Mealy chipped in 10 points for the Panthers, the No. 2 Northern Division seed.

The Blue Bears, playing their third game in three nights including a double overtime win over Johnson C. Smith Thursday, led much of the contest but could not pull away from the Panthers, who stayed close by controlling the boards. They outrebounded the Blue Bears 47-38 which led to a 20-15 edge in second-chance points.

With nine reserves playing 10 or more minutes, the Blue Bears prevailed by outscoring the Panthers in bench points 40-21. While the Blue Bears substituted often, only seven Panthers logged 17 or more minutes.

"They were kind of tired [after the Smith victory] but did everything they were supposed to do that night," Stinson said. "That's a credit to our coaching staff. I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart."

The Blue Bears led 43-39 in a high-scoring first half. Dubose sparked a balanced scoring attack with nine points and Traynham added eight points. Cooley scored 16 first-half points and Anderson added 11 for the Panthers.

Both teams were scorching hot in the first 20 minutes. The Blu
e Bears shot 53.1 percent and the Panthers made 51.5 percent of their attempts. They cooled off considerably in the second half with the Blue Bears shooting 28.1 percent and the Panthers shooting 33.3 percent.

But the Blue Bears made the clutch shots during crunch time.

"I want to congratulate Livingstone College and Coach Stinson," Panthers' Head Coach Jay Butler said. "There is a reason why they are two-time champions. They are a very experienced team. They made plays down the stretch."


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