|Roger Ray shines, Livingstone tops Bowie State in CIAA quarters|
|Guard scores 22 in 74-70 win|
|Published Wednesday, February 26, 2020 8:00 pm|
If the Livingstone Blue Bears are going to make the CIAA tournament final, Roger Ray will be the one to take them there.
The CIAA Player of the Year scored 22 points, playing the entire game in their 74-70 win against Bowie State (16-14) at Bojangles’ Coliseum. Ray provided nine assists, matching Bowie State’s entire team. He was also the only player to have an assist for Livingstone. Yet the senior guard does not feel any additional urgency to perform well during the tournament.
“There is really no pressure,” Ray said. “We know God has our back, and we just keep fighting every day. We know that if we just play hard, make the right plays, make good decisions, coach has put us in a great position. We are just going to let God direct our path.”
Said coach James Stinson: “I’m expecting us to try to continue to build one game at a time.”
Livingstone, 13-15 and No. 6 in the Southern Division, face No. 2 in the South Winston-Salem State on Feb. 27 at Spectrum Center in the quarterfinals at 9 p.m. The winner advances to the semifinal on Feb. 28 at 9 p.m.
“We had a pretty good game with Winston-Salem at their place,” Stinson said of their regular season finale, which went 82-76 to the Rams, and Ray led all scorers with 31 points.
Stinson noted that the Blue Bers may go smaller to defend against the Rams on the perimeter. He also pointed out the importance of rebounding against them. WSSU outperformed the Blue Bears on the glass 54-35 during their last meeting. In the tournament, Bowie outrebounded Livingstone 43-31.
“Rebounding has to be our focal point,” Stinson said. “It doesn’t show tonight, because they have a great rebounding team at Bowie State. We’ll change it up just a little bit.”
Livingstone made three consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament between 2013-2015, beating Winston-Salem State twice in the CIAA final in 2014 and 2015. The Blue Bears made four straight finals appearances between 2013-16; losing to Bowie State in 2013 and Virginia State in 2016. They crossed paths with the Bulldogs in 2017 and 2018, losing in the semifinals and quarterfinals respectively. Last season, Virginia State brought their season to a close in the semis.
“[Bowie State senior guard] Cameron Hayes was talking about it out on the court,” Ray said. “It’s crazy we’ve matched up every year since I’ve been at Livingstone. They kind of haunted me my first me my first two years.”
Stinson noted the emotional element of the tournament’s final run in Charlotte, as it will move to Baltimore next year.
“[It is] kind of a sentimental time, especially for me, with me being from Charlotte,” Stinson said. “Just knowing this might be one of my last opportunities to have a chance to play in this arena. I grew up around here.”
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