Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

February 8, 2013

Shawnee snags Rams

BLUEFIELD, Va. — The late-Jim Valvano was always concerned about playing those ‘State’ schools that aren’t actually states.

Shawnee State would fit into that category.

The Bluefield College men’s basketball team lost by 32 to Shawnee State in  Portsmouth, Ohio last month. The Rams were within three in the final minute on Thursday, but dropped a 77-73 decision to the Bears at the Dome Gymnasium.

It was Bluefield’s ninth straight loss. The Rams are 1-11 in 2013, but Richard Morgan’s squad has shown improvement, losing its last three games by 6, 1 and now 4 points.

“You are supposed to play your better basketball in February and March so hopefully that is what we are doing,” Morgan said. “I think it is just our time. We are jelling. I like what we got, I like the guys because they come out and play hard every night.”

Shawnee State (14-9, 10-5), which is tied for first place in the Mid-South Conference and receiving votes in the NAIA national poll, was led by 6-foot-6 sharpshooter Jeremy Bennington, who had 25 points, including sevens 3.

Tyler Morgan added 21 points and a game-high nine rebounds for the Bears, which scorched the nets at a 59.3 percent (16-27) clip in the opening half, taking a 41-34 lead into the break.

Shawnee State, which also received nine points and five assists from Ian Nixson and eight points and seven boards by Nick Gouch, made 10 3s to Bluefield’s eight in the game.

Bluefield (7-15, 2-13) placed four players in double figures, led by Byron Carpenter (21), Kearsten Marion (14 points, six assists), Pierre Walters (13 points, eight rebounds) and Josh Nesbit (10). Eric Swift added nine points, eight assists and three steals.

The Bears took a 7-6 lead on a 3 by Trevor Banks, and held the lead until breakaway dunks by Swift and Nesbit sparked a run that saw the Rams take the lead at 51-50 on a 3 by Marion with 11:29 left in the game.

That was followed by five more lead changes and two ties before Morgan got loose from a double team along the baseline and drove to the basket to put the Bears up to stay with 4:43 to go.

Bluefield was able to get within one, but never any closer. The Bears were 15 for 21 from the free throw line, including 8 for 8 in the final 3:55 to secure the win.

“You can’t fault the effort, but we just make too many mistakes and mistakes will kill you in a game like that,” Morgan said. “When it is tight like that you can’t make mistakes.”

Bluefield, which will host Rio Grande (Ohio) on Saturday, continues to improve after losing three starters since the season began, including two in the current semester.

“We are getting better and they haven’t quit so that is a good thing,” Morgan said. “We are improving.”

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