WINSTON-SALEM, NC — The CIAA Tournament doesn’t start until Tuesday, but WSSU and Livingstone’s double-header gave both programs a taste of the tournament atmosphere.
The Winston-Salem State men’s and women’s basketball programs took care of business on the court in front of a crowd of better than 4,500 spectators on Saturday. The games were played, not on WSSU’s campus, but across town at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The WSSU women handled Livingstone easily, coming away with a 62-42 win over their opponents from Salisbury, NC. Hadiya Balser led the effort with 15 points and 12 rebounds while Amaya Tucker and Valencia Carroll chipped in 10 points each. Freshman Taniyah Wilkins had 14 rebounds to go with her seven points.
The Livingstone women were held to just 26 percent shooting from the field. Livingstone drops to 10-17 on the season, 5-11 in CIAA play.
Winston-Salem State’s win improved its record to 15-9 overall, 11-5 in CIAA play. That record puts WSSU at no. 3 in the conference heading into the tournament in Baltimore.
The WSSU men didn’t win as convincingly, coming away with a 65-59 win, but it got the job done. That was important to head coach Cleo Hill Jr., whose squad entered the contest with a three-game losing streak on its back.
“We did what we wanted to do. We definitely wanted to win the game, but we wanted to play better than we’ve played,” Hill said after the game. “I thought the last three games that we lost, we didn’t we didn’t play well in terms of executing the game plan. And in probably two or three games before that losing streak — two or three games that we won — I still don’t think we were playing well. So we wanted to come in and just play better on both ends of the court.”
Redshirt junior forward Jaylen Alston led the way with 16 points and nine rebounds in the win. Center Jaylon Gibson had 12 points and eight rebounds and Samage Teel added 13 points for WSSU.
Livingstone turned the ball over 24 times and was just two-for-nine from the 3-point line. It falls to 11-14 on the season, 7-9 in the CIAA.
WSSU improved to 17-8, 9-7 in CIAA play.