Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 19, 2014

Big Blues bash

Trio leads Bluefield State past Ohio Valley

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — It was Treon Claiborne for one half, Shakir Dunning after the break, and Samuel Ouedraogo cleaning around the glass for the entire game.

That combination proved lethal for Bluefield State, as the Big Blues improved to 5-11 on the season with a 79-72 win over Ohio Valley on Saturday afternoon at Ned Shott Gymnasium.

Bluefield State, which defeated Ohio Valley107-102 in overtime last month, has just five wins, but the Big Blues have lost five games by nine or fewer points.

Considering the struggles the Bluefield State program has had over the last decade, there is a sense of optimism from the Big Blues.

“Jamaal told me they haven’t really got this amount of wins in a long time,” Dunning said, “but at the same time we can’t be pleased with that because we want to take it to another level.”

Dunning did just that in the second half against the Scots, scoring 26 of his 32 points after the break, finishing with a trio of 3s and a perfect 13 for 13 from the free throw line.

“He can play,” Jacksoin said. “He can score it.”

That followed just 2 for 9 shooting and six points at the break.

“The first half was really No. 5, Treon,” Dunning said. “He was the hot hand so once we figure that someone has the hot hand we just keep going to him. Then I figured I needed to produce for my team so we could get the win.”

He did just fine. So did Claiborne, a senior, who finished with 27 points, including 17 in the opening half, and also grabbed nine rebounds. Jackson already knows how much he is going to miss him next season.

“I am going to miss him, he does whatever I ask him for,” Jackson said. “He plays four positions the floor, he battles on the glass, he gets to the basket and now he is finally knocking down the 3-ball, he is just a rock.

“I have never had one problem from Treon in his two years, all he does is produce and play hard and plays through injuries and plays through illness. He is our rock, I expect at least 15 and nine from him every night, to get 27 and 9, that is a bonus.”

That duo was complemented around the basket by Ouedraogo, a 6-foot-9 junior from Burkina Faso, who had 15 rebounds, adding to his 13 per game average, which is second among Division II rebounders in the nation to Aaron Nelson of Southern Indiana.

“Sam plays hard, he is second in the nation in rebounding with 13 per game,” Jackson said. “He had 15 tonight so that helped his average.  

“He is going to have to, we have nine guards and then Sam so he is going to have to keep it up. Sam has played through injuries all season long and he is just going to get better.”

An entertaining contest from the start, neither team led by more than nine points, which happened once, a 55-46 lead for the Big Blues following a 13-3 run capped off by two free throws from Dunning with 13:50 left in the second half. Dunning had two 3s and Claiborne had one during the spurt.

Ohio Valley (2-12) narrowed the margin to one at 67-66 on a basket by Povilas Dambrauskas with 6:34 to go, but Dunning followed with a field goal and free throw, and then found Claiborne for a breakaway layup, which was followed by another toss from the charity stripe, pushing the lead up to 73-66, which was more than enough for the Blues.

The shot clock was barely noticeable in this game. Both teams came out running and shooting, with the first half featuring four lead changes and three ties, with the Blues taking a 36-33 lead into the break.

“We have been working the last few days on getting the ball out in transition and playing as a team,” Jackson said. “We don’t do too well in half court right now so that is what we did.

“We had seven assists in the first half, seven assists in the second half. We may have had more than that, there may have been some missed.”

Four more lead changes followed in a two-minute span early in the second half, but after Ohio Valley took a brief final lead at 43-42 on a drive to the basket by Sequan Lawrence, the Blues went on its deciding run.

“We got to the line a lot because we were getting to the basket,” Jackson said. “We had a few forced shots, but much less forced shots than we have had in the past. They played some great team ball today, I was really proud of them.”

Lawrence, who entered leading the Scots in scoring with 20.5 points a game, had 11 at the break, but finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Jerry Macon Jr. added 20 points, including 13 in the second half, while Arturs Vitins added 13 in the loss.

“We know their bread and butter was No. 1, Lawrence, and the big man in the post (Vitins),” Jackson said.”Lawrence had over his average today, which we try to hold the top scorer between their average.

“I usually put Dunning on the leading scorer and he does a good job, they had two good guards. Macon is pretty quick also, he had 20, Lawrence had 25 and Vitins had 13 so when you had three guys who can score like that it is really tough.”

Not tough enough on this day, with the Blues looking for continued improvement on Tuesday at Davis & Elkins. Bluefield State returns home on Jan. 29 to face Pfeiffer.

—Contact Brian Woodson