RALEIGH, NC – For the third consecutive game, the Shaw University men's basketball team needed a second half rally here Monday night as the now top-seed in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Southern Division Bears outscored Livingstone College 44-38 after halftime to post a 82-79 victory over the Blue Bears in a crowded C.C. Spaulding Gymnasium. The victory puts the Bears in sole possession of first place in the CIAA South as Shaw (9-9, 5-3) improves to 3-0 in the division. With the loss, LC (6-11, 3-4 CIAA) stands 2-1 within the division.
Shaw finished with a field-goal percentage of 39.7 to go with 36.7 percent shooting from long distance. LC shot 45.3 percent in the game and 23.8 percent from the perimeter. Both teams shot over 60 percent from the foul line, with the Bears converting 25-of-36 (69.4 percent) and the Blue Bears connecting 26-of-33 free-throws for 78.8 percent.
Senior Benji Bell (Gainesville, FL) paced the Bears in scoring with a game-high 32 points, seven assists and four rebounds. Bell converted 17of-20 free-throw attempts in the game while also draining six field goals and three three-pointers. Senior Larry Richardson, II (Garner, NC) chipped in 15 points and four rebounds. Senior David Madol (Manchester, NH) contributed eight points while senior DeAaron Ward (Wilson, NC) grabbed a team-best seven rebounds.
After the visitors established an early 5-2 lead, the home side rattled off four straight points to seize an 18-16 advantage with 12:28 remaining in the first half.
LC would stretch its margin to eight points with 7:28 to go before Madol knocked down a three-pointer on the wing to pull within three (24-21). The Bears went on a scoring drought at the 5:45 mark as the Blue Bears groomed a 10-point lead on a free-throw from Cameron Burhannon. Shaw cut the deficit to 41-38 at the half on a 9-2 run heading into the locker room.
The hosts chipped away at the deficit before capturing a one-point lead on a free-throw from senior Joshua Cassady (Raleigh, NC) but that would be short lived as the Blue Bears went up 45-42 on a layup from Samuel McClendon with 16:54 remaining. After seven ties down the stretch, Shaw took a two point lead on a jumper from Richardson, II, following two free-throws from Bell to lead by four with the clock showing 5:17 left in regulation.
The Bears appeared as if they were about to put the game away after Bell scored seven-straight, in addition to a free-throw from junior DeAngelo Stephens-Bell (Jacksonville, FL) with 2:25 left but LC kept battling back and pulled within one point as the score showed 76-75 in favor of Shaw.
With 46 seconds remaining in the game, Bell hit one-of-two from the charity stripe and the next possession down, Shaw picked up a steal on a Blue Bear turnover which would send Bell to the line for two more. This time he would sink them both to put the Bears up 79-75, however, LC scored on a tip-in cutting the deficit to two points again.
The game literally came down to the wire as both teams went point-for-point in the final seconds. LC trailed 80-79 after two made free-throws from Roger Ray with 10 seconds left before Madol banked two free-throws of his own to put the Bears up for good. The Blue Bears attempted two three-pointers as time expired but the attempts were no good, giving Shaw its third-straight division win on the year.
Ray finished with a team-best 20 points for LC, while Eric Dortch-Jones and Darryl Bond contributed 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Shaw will remain at home Wednesday, Jan. 25 as the Bears plays host to Fayetteville State University with a tipoff slated for 8 p.m. in C.C. Spaulding Gymnasium.
For the most up-to-date information on Shaw University men's basketball and its 11 varsity sport teams, please visit www.shawbears.com.