CHARLOTTE, N.C. — CIAA Player of the Year Mark Thomas scored a game-high 28 points and backcourt mate Jody Hill added 19 points to lead Livingstone College to a 75-63 men’s basketball quarterfinal win over Saint Augustine’s University in the CIAA Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena.
The victory sends the Blue Bears (19-7 overall) to Friday’s semi-finals against either Fayetteville State University or Lincoln (Pa.). The Blue Bears, the top-seeded Southern Division team, are looking to reach the championship game for the third time in four years, including last year.
Tashaun Stockdale and Joel Kindred scored 13 points apiece for the Falcons (13-16 overall), the No. 6 seed in the Southern Division. Amere May added 10 points.
Thomas, named Food Lion MVP of the game, scored 18 points in the second half to ignite the Blue Bears, who shot 49 percent in the final 20 minutes. Hill added seven points as the Blue Bears opened the half with a 19-10 run for a 49-38 lead with 13:40 left in the game. Thomas scored eight points during the spurt, including a layup that put the Blue Bears up by 11. The Falcons climbed back within four points at 57-53 on Kindred’s layup with 6:22 remaining. His basket completed a 15-8 run.
The Blue Bears pulled away with a 10-2 run for a 67-55 lead with 3:41 left. Thomas scored eight points during the run. Kindred scored for the Falcons with 1:48 remaining to cut their deficit to eight at 69-61, but they would get no closer. The Blue Bears shot 43 percent from the floor overall while the Falcons shot 33 percent. Most of the Blue Bears’ points came in the paint, where they held a 40-24 advantage.
“We didn’t get off to a great start, but Saint Augustine’s had something to do with that,” Livingstone Head Coach James Stinson said. “Once we started getting in transition, it started to loosen up for us.”
The Falcons carried the momentum of Wednesday’s second-round victory over Shaw University into the first half. The Blue Bears led 5-2 early, but the Falcons opened a 17-7 lead on a 15-2 run. Stockdale scored five points during that stretch for the Falcons.
“The guys were ready to play,” said Saint Augustine’s Head Coach Tony Sheals, whose squad lost twice to the Blue Bears, including a one-point overtime defeat at home on February 19. “We knew we could play them, and it would be a dogfight.”
The Blue Bears pulled within 17-13, but May knocked down two free throws for a six-point Falcons’ lead. The Blue Bears seized control late in the half when Hill scored 10 points during a 17-9 run in the last 6:26 for a 30-28 halftime lead. Hill and Thomas had 12 and 10 points, respectively, in the first half for the Blue Bears, who shot 37 percent. Stockdale and May each had seven points for the Falcons, who shot 28 percent. There were two lead changes and the score was tied three times in the first 20 minutes.
The Falcons won the rebounding battle 25-21 in the first half, including a 9-5 edge on the offensive boards. It led to an 8-6 edge in second chance points for the Falcons. The Blue Bears outscored the Falcons in the paint 14-10.