Sometimes, scouting an opponent can present challenges. Lack of game tape, roster turnover and other unforeseen circumstances can throw off a team and coach's preparation for game day.
Enter the Livingstone College Blue Bears, the latest challenge to BLC men's basketball coach Nolan Adams and his young Thoroughbreds. Finding information on the Blue Bears - including their game-day roster, was difficult at times. "It was an X-factor. We didn't know much about them," Adams said postgame on the Thoroughbreds Sports Network.
Livingstone came to Hope Community Church Arena with a distinct size advantage over the Thoroughbreds. Of the eight players dressed for the Blue Bears, only one was listed under six feet tall, and five of them were at least 6'6". "Just because they're bigger than us doesn't mean we have to adjust to them; they have to adjust to us, " Adams added.
Truer words were never spoken, as the Thoroughbreds used a 57 point second half to cruise to a 102-88 victory over the visitors from Salisbury, N.C. Sophomore forward Wol Yak was hot in the first half, scoring 25 of his game-high 31 points in the first 20 minutes.
"Wol really picked it up (for us) in the first half," Adams said.
The Herd led 45-40 at the break in a back-and-forth matchup. Livingstone held a 37-36 lead with 2:42 remaining until halftime. The lead was short-lived as sophomore point guard Sam Benton, Jr. hit a three-pointer to regain a 39-37 advantage that BLC never surrendered for the remainder of the game.
Despite the best efforts from Blue Bears guard James Nipper and forward AJ Shaw, the Thoroughbreds did just enough to hold off Livingstone in the final 20 minutes. Benton scored 17 of his 24 points in the second half, including three field goals from beyond the arc. Wol Yak and freshman guard Patrick Harrington (five points) both hit dagger threes in the final minute to put the exclamation point on the victory.
BLC got major contributions from freshmen Darquez Flowers (9 points, 13 rebounds), Jaye Bookhart (8 points, five rebounds) and the returning Kalil Baker (14 points, nine assists).
Benton, Baker and Wol Yak missed the previous two games at Cape Fear Community College and Allen University with injuries. Sophomore guard Miigwaanhs Barrientoz remains sidelined with a calf injury and missed Tuesday's game. The timeline for Barrientoz to return is unclear at this time.
The Thoroughbreds will travel to Charlotte on Thursday, November 30th in another non-conference showdown with Johnson & Wales University. BLC returns home on Tuesday, December 5th against Appalachian Bible College. Tip-off for next Tuesday's home game is scheduled for 6:00pm, airing live on the Thoroughbreds Sports Network.