By Mark F. Gray
AFRO Staff Writer
The northern most rivals in the CIAA met at Lincoln University as Bowie State’s men and women split a pair of games in Oxford, Pennsylvania. The Bulldogs men were led by an explosive career high performance, while the women were beaten by a team who made a statement they could upset the trajectory of the march to a championship run.
On an afternoon where two players were in position to join BSU’s 1,000 point club, Justin Route stole the show. He led the Bulldogs’ comeback with a career-high 22 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field and a team career-high eight rebounds as they came back from a sluggish start to crush the Lions 89-73. Route opened the game making the team’s first three-pointer before Lincoln reeled off 11 unanswered points, which nearly blew the roof off Manuel Riveiro Arena.
Cameron Hayes and Davis Belle were poised to add their names to the history books, but when Route exploded offensively, it was clear they would have to wait before they would join the exclusive club. Belle entered the game with 977 career points and after a 15-point performance that ended early when he was pulled from the game once it was no longer in doubt, he needs just eight points to join the program’s exclusive basketball fraternity. Hayes took fewer shots and scored only 10 to find himself 17 points from the illustrious milestone.
This was by far BSU’s most complete performance of the new year, where they beat up Lincoln in every aspect of the game. The Bulldogs got a major lift from their reserves, who outscored the Lions bench 21-0. In the second half they erupted for an 18-point lead at the 15:36 minute mark after back-to-back jumpers by Route. With just over six minutes left in regulation, the Bulldogs held a 28-point lead – their largest of the season – prompting head coach Darrell Brooks to empty his bench with the game no longer in doubt.
Meanwhile, Lincoln’s women grabbed another early season pelt after capping their home sweep of the best two teams in the conference with their 53-49 win over the Bulldogs. Suddenly after the best start in the history of the program, Bowie State has now lost three of its last six games, despite a furious last minute comeback attempt that fell short.
Junior Talanya Hutton led the Bulldogs in scoring with 17 points and five rebounds, while senior Kyaja Williams recorded a double-double after scoring 14 points and grabbed a career-high 20 rebounds. However, BSU proved to be their biggest culprits with a multitude of unforced errors that ultimately put themselves too deep in a second half hole they couldn’t dig out of.
The Lions scored 25 points off 17 Bowie State turnovers. They weren’t able to connect from beyond the three point line making only six of the long range attempts. BSU was also in a giving mood at the free throw line, missing 12 of their 19 free throws, which ultimately was the difference in the game.