By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD — Explosive.
The Bluefield State College Lady Blues exploded for 54 points in the second half and used a stingy defense throughout the game to win their fourth consecutive game, 95-64 over Salem International University, Monday night at Ned Shott Gymnasium.
“I thought we came out pressing a little bit, taking too quick shots,” said BSC head coach J.J. Oliver. “They (Salem) came out in a zone and I thought we were hurried, kind of lacking energy in some phases of the game. Once we decided we were going to run our offense and make the defense move, I think we were able to get the shots we wanted.”
Points were at a premium in the beginning and the teams were tied several times. After the first 11 minutes of play Bluefield State held a six point lead, 18-12.
The Lady Blues increased their lead on a three by Jenaya Abernathy to eight points, and baskets by Shay Gravely and Hope Smith just before halftime pushed the lead to 12.
A Gravely three with half a minute to go before intermission gave BSC a 41-28 halftime advantage.
Bluefield State came out of the locker room smoking in the second half, going on a 10-4 run in the first three minutes, highlighted on a Shay-to-Shae combination in which Shay Gravely stole the ball and Shae Mebane converted the bucket on the other end of the floor. Moments later Mebane dropped a turnaround jumper to put State ahead 53-32.
“After halftime we forced a lot of turnovers on the defensive end and we took care of the basketball,” Oliver said. “Shae Mebane played a good game for us on both ends of the court.”
Tonya Jackson’s put-back midway through the second half gave the Lady Blues a 31-point lead and the game was never in doubt.
Hardship struck Salem late in the game when with 1:03 left to play, Jessica Lagard, running down court fell to the floor injured.
The game was halted for nearly 20 minutes while Lagard received medical attention to what appeared to be an injury to her leg and was taken to a local hospital by EMTs.
Four Lady Blues scored in double figures, led by Abernathy, who came off the bench to score 17. Mebane dropped in 16, Kearah Jefferys 12 and Tanasia Blake came off the bench in the second half to score 11. Bluefield State controlled the boards, out-rebounding Salem 48-24. Hope Smith cleared the glass 11 times and Mebane had seven while, Tenika Jackson, Abernathy and Tonya Jackson each had five boards.
After shooting 39 percent in the opening half, BSC made 48 percent of its shots the final 20 minutes.
“Overall I am pleased with our young ladies, Oliver said. “It’s the most points we’ve scored all year and I think it was a great team effort. From one-through-12, I think everybody came to play.”
Inkera Patterson led Salem and all scorers with 20 points. Tashay Smith tallied 15 and Adesha Hobbs added 11.
Bluefield State, now 8-9 and winners of four in a row and six of their last seven games, have not lost since the calendar turned to 2014.
Their only loss in the seven game stretch was to Division I George Washington University on New Year’s Eve in the nation’s capital.
“We have a new attitude in 2014,” Oliver said. “Whatever happened before 2014 doesn’t matter to us, we look ahead. Even the games we have won in 2014, they don’t matter to us anymore, we move ahead.
“We have a saying, ‘The next best action.’ Whatever that is, whether it is on the floor, if we score, whatever it is.
“Now we turn our sites to Alderson-Broaddus and the next best action. We’ve got to come out and go 1-0 on Saturday.”
The Lady Blues will entertain Alderson-Broaddus on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.
— Contact Bob Redd at firstname.lastname@example.org