By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
It was a heavyweight fight on the basketball court. A Concord run, followed by a Bluefield State run. When it appeared one team was down for the count, they would rise and retake the lead.
In the end the Concord University Mountain Lions made the final run and held off the Bluefield State Big Blues 72-68, Saturday afternoon at the Ned Shott Gymnasium on the BSC campus.
Concord came out fast and furious and took a 9-0 lead. BSC got on the board when Detterance Norwood, playing his first game for the Big Blues, popped a three, three minutes into the game.
At the media timeout with 13:48 to play the Mountain Lions were ahead by 10, 16-6.
“We jumped out on them early and we told the guys, our last message to them was this going to be a 40-minute game,” said Concord head coach Kevin McBride. “I don’t care what the scoreboard says, it’s going to be a dog fight because that is what Concord and Bluefield State is.”
Dazed, but not knocked out, Bluefield State came back. Simeon Denny three, followed by Treon Claiborne’s floater in the lane made it a three point game, 19-16. Avery Holliday’s two free throws with 10:05 left in the half gave State its first lead of the evening 20-19.
Concord answered as Damien Tunstalle made one-of-two free throws to tie the game at 20 before the teams went through a period in which they exchanged the lead several times.
The teams were knotted at 28 at the media timeout with 6:28 left before halftime.
The final six minutes of the half saw the teams run the floor, make shots, block shots, commit fouls and score points.
Claiborne’s coast-to-coast rebound and ensuing dunk with 42 seconds before the intermission gave BSC a 40-37 lead. Concord’s Mike Boyd answered with two free throws with 23 ticks left on the clock and Bluefield State took a 40-39 lead into the break.
Concord retook the lead early in the second half on a three by Tunstalle. A technical foul on BSC’s Sam Ouedraogo sent Tunstalle to the line where he made one-of-two to tie the game at 42.
Again, just as in the first half the lead would go back and forth between the two squads, neither team gaining more than a three point advantage until Tunstalle again stepped to the free throw line and dropped in two shots to give his Mountain Lions a 57-52 lead, their biggest advantage since early in the contest.
Another Claiborne dunk cut the Concord lead to three before Norwood picked up his fifth foul with 3:33 to go in the game. Nick Ruffin dropped in the two free throws to put CU up by five, 67-62.
Johnny Uhegwu’s trey from the top of the key made it a two-point game with 3:20 left. Gentry Shrewsbury then missed two free throws with 2:54 to go, but BSC turned the ball over and with 2:23 to go Shrewsbury gained a bit of redemption as he swished two free throws through the net to push the Concord lead to four.
With less than a minute to go Concord had a chance to increase its lead but turned the ball over with 57 seconds to play. Looking to tie, BSC came down court and returned the favor, giving the ball back to the Mountain Lions with 41 seconds to go.
Boyd’s two free throws with 9.1 gave Concord a 71-65 advantage. State’s Joseph Dawkins made a three with 2.3 to go and Bluefield State fouled Boyd sending him to the line.
Boyd’s two free throws with 1.3 showing on the clock sealed the victory for Concord. State pushed the ball down court and the shot from three, swished through the net, but it was after the buzzer sounded and would have been a point shot even if it were half a second earlier.
“We did a better job in the second half,” McBride said. “They were giving us a lot of ball pressure the first half and we had a lot of turnovers. We did a better job taking care of the ball in the second half.”
Boyd led all scorers with 22 points. He added three assists, a block and steal. Tunstalle tallied 15 with five rebounds. Eric Bailey came off the bench to lead Concord with seven rebounds.
Norwood led Bluefield State with 18 points, including four threes. He had five steals in his first game as a Big Blue. Claiborne had 15 points and nine rebounds, while Dawkins scored 10 points with four boards and three assists. Ouedraogo had eight rebounds before fouling out.
“They (Concord) went to that zone and we started jacking up threes,” said BSC head coach Jamaal Jackson. “Against the zone you’ve got to move the ball, they we can penetrate the gaps. The more you move the ball, the more you spread out the zone.
“So once you spread it out you want to penetrate the gaps, then we can put the three up if we can’t score in the paint. But we never penetrated the gaps, just one or two passes and shoot the three.
“But the thing that really hurt us, they shot 23 free throws in the second half and we shot four. They shot 40 for the game, we shot 18. Usually when that happens it’s very difficult to win.”
The Lions out-rebounded the Blues 44-38.
Bluefield State, now 0-10 overall and 0-6 in WVIAC action. Concord’s record stands at 7-3 overall and 3-3 in league play.
“I give Coach Jackson credit,” McBride said. “He is doing good things here and if they will be patient with him, he will get things rolling and that scares me.”
Both teams return to league play on Monday as BSC hosts Davis & Elkins and Concord travels to Ohio Valley.
— Contact Bob Redd at