By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Mike Boyd’s last-second shot was just off the mark at the end of overtime Saturday and the Highland Cavaliers of UVa-Wise turned back Concord University 79-77 on the last evening of the regular season at the Christie-Cox Court in Athens.
After 18 lead changes and 11 ties, Concord (8-19, 5-16 Mountain East) lost its fourth straight game prior to starting tournament play on Tuesday at Shepherd University.
“That was a dogfight of a game,” Concord head coach Kent McBride said, “They made the plays down the stretch that needed to be made, and we didn’t. You can (replay) that record about 10 times this year.”
“We’ve got to get past that,” he said. “This has been the story of the Mountain Lions’ season.”
Deon Boyce, the leading rebounder in the Mountain East Conference, had 15 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks for UVa-Wise (10-15, 7-14). Nine of those boards came after halftime. Javon Moore had a game-high 19 points for the Cavaliers — including eight of his team’s 10 points in overtime.
McBride said, “(Boyce) really dominated the back-side glass in the second half, and Javon Moore dominated the overtime by driving us to the rim.”
Blake Mellinger, the first-year head coach of UVa-Wise, said about Boyce, “He’s just a man. I don’t know any other way to put it. They were packing two or three guys around him the entire night, but he always finds a way to get the job done.”
The Mountain Lions went on a 7-0 run to open up a 29-22 lead, forcing two turnovers and three one-and-done possessions by UVa-Wise. But Concord’s offense began to sputter and the visitors chipped away at their deficit, taking a 33-32 halftime lead.
In the final five minutes of regulation, neither side was ahead by more than four points, and no one could get a field goal to drop in the last 2:22 of the second half. Boyd extended the game to an extra frame by nailing two pressure-packed free throws with 2.1 seconds on the clock to tie the game 69-69.
Terry Hopewell scored the first six points of overtime, staking Concord to a 75-69 advantage. Then Moore went on his own tear, netting eight of the next nine points — including a basket awarded due to goaltending by Concord with 46.7 seconds left.
Ali Barnes gave Concord its final lead, 77-76, on a pair of free throws, but Moore answered less than 10 seconds later with a floater in the lane. Boyce sank one foul shot with 3.8 seconds to go for the final margin, and Boyd raced down the floor for his final hurried attempt.
Mellinger said, “It really came down to us stringing a couple of stops together. We’d make a little push, and then they’d make a push back. It seems like it was back-and-forth like that the entire second half.”
“I thought our guys did a really good job of just gritting it out there in overtime.”
Hopewell had 18 points on 7 of 12 shooting, plus five boards, two steals and three of Concord’s four blocks. Barnes contributed 12 points and four assists. Aaron Miller added 13 points and Cam Shannon tossed in 12 points with five rebounds. Boyd distributed seven assists.
Concord was out-rebounded 45 to 29 and was outscored 46 to 30 in the paint. The two teams were nearly dead-even in field-goal percentage and both sides made 13 foul shots.
The West Virginia Conference championship team of 1988-89 was recognized at halftime on the court named for their coaches, Don Christie and Steve Cox.
—Contact Tom Bone at bdtonline.com.
A story on the 1988-89 team reunion will run in Monday’s Daily Telegraph.