SALISBURY,NC – The #7 Winston-Salem State University Rams could not overcome a 20 rebounds deficit and costly turnovers down the stretch, as the Rams fell to Livingstone College 60-55 in a sold out Trent Gymnasium on the campus of Livingstone College.
Livingstone College would settle themselves and fought back to take their first lead at 18-16 with 12:01 in first half. They would continue their run and push their leaf to 26-19 with just over 7:00 to play in the first half.
Winston-Salem State would play the game without freshman sensation, Michel-Ofik Nzege, who was sidelined with a sprained ankle suffered against Johnson C. Smith on Wednesday.
The Blue Bears would outscore the WSSU Rams 16-8 over the next 12 minutes to take a 32-24 lead into the locker room at the half.
The Blue Bears bench outscored the Rams 10-2 in the first 20 minutes, as well as holding a small advantage in points in the paint (12-10), points off of turnovers (12-10) and second chance points (9-4). The score was tied three times, with one lead change in the first half. Blue Bears owning the boards and WSSU struggling with turnovers.
Winston-Salem State came out strong in the second half but could not seem to overcome the emotion of the Blue Bears or their strong rebounding effort.
But midway through the half, the WSSU Rams found themselves within striking distance, and back to back baskets by Joseph Thompson pulled WSSU to within one point at 45-44. A WyKevin Bazemore layup with 5:47 to play tied the game at 48-48, and two Tyre Desmore free throws put the Rams back on top for the first time since early in the game.
But the Blue Bears Mark Thomas mad a huge 3-pt field goal with 3:32 to play, and the Rams would not be able to over the deficit and eventually lost 60-55.
The Rams played without freshman forward and starter, Michel-Ofik Nzege, who sprained an ankle on Wednesday in WSSU's win over Johnson C. Smith. WSSU shot 31% and had a season low five assists in the loss. The Rams shot just 17% from behind the 3-pt arc, making just 3 of 17.
Justin Glover led the Rams with 19 points and five steals. He also had three rebounds. WyKevin Bazemore added 13 points and three blocked shots, while Joseph Thompson added nine points and four rebounds.
Mark Thomas led the Blue Bears with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Eladio Espinoso finished with nine points and 11 rebounds. Omar Ford-Bey also chipped in nine points.
With the win over WSSU, Livingstone College (20-5 Overall, 12-4 CIAA, 8-2 Southern Division) earns the Southern Division title and the #1 seed from the division in next week's CIAA Tournament. Winston-Salem State University falls to 20-5 overall, 13-3 in the CIAA and 7-3 in the Southern Division. The Rams will have the #2 seed in the CIAA Tournament from the Southern Division and will play on Thursday.
The official CIAA Tournament Pairings will be release on Sunday by the CIAA Office.