By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Shakir Dunning fired in 22 points, Avery Holliday came off the bench to add 15 and Sam Ouedraogo pulled down eight rebounds to lead the Bluefield State College Big Blues to a 72-64 win over the Concord University Mountain Lions, Monday evening at the Ned Shott Gymnasium.
“We executed much better than we had in the past on the offensive end,” said BSC head coach Jamaal Jackson. “We stayed patient, we knocked down the open shots, knocked down our free throws — 78 percent from the free throw line. It’s not our best of the season, but it’s better than we have been doing.
“The guys shared the ball, they moved it and nobody was trying to do a lot of one-on-one. The guys trusted each other tonight.”
State drew first blood on a bucket by Treon Claiborne before Concord knotted the game a two. BSC moved ahead 6-3 before CU scored five straight to take an 8-6 lead.
The Big Blues led 11-10 at the first media timeout with under 15 minutes to play in the opening half. Following the pause in play Concord scored six unanswered to take a 16-11 lead but state charged back.
Holliday’s trey put the Big Blues back ahead by one and later B.J. Hamlet’s three pulled the Mountain Lions even at 19.
Simeon Denny drained a three to push the Bluefield State lead to five and with just under two minutes to go before halftime Claiborne grabbed a defensive rebound and went coast-to-coast, closing with a lay up that gave the home team a 26-23 advantage.
State went into the locker room ahead 31-26, led on the offensive court by Dunning’s 11 first half points.
The Big Blues extended their lead as they opened the second half with a 6-0 run. And went up by 11 points on Sergio Smith’s three point play the old-fashioned way with 16:57 to play in the game.
Concord fought back and pulled to within eight at the under-10 media timeout and closed to within five when Hamlet sank a three with 8:30 to go.
Bluefield State, however, forged ahead, making the most out of its successful free throw shooting, while Concord struggled from the charity stripe.
Denny’s trey from the left baseline gave Bluefield State its biggest lead at 13 points, 60-47.
Again Concord fought back. Yet another triple by Hamlet closed the gap to seven with 2:20 to play and A.J. Williams put through an alley-oop to close it to six at 66-60.
The Mountain Lions clawed again to within six with less than a minute left when Mike Boyd connected on two free throws with 47.8 ticks on the clock, but Dominique Cartier made one of two foul shots for State to clinch the win with 30.1 seconds remaining, giving the Big Blues an eight-point lead.
For the game Bluefield State made 18 of 23 free throws, while Concord made nine of 18, however at one point the Mountain Lions had missed six consecutive shots from the line.
In addition to Dunning’s 22 and Avery’s 15, Smith dropped in 10 points for Bluefield State. Dunning also had four steals on the night and Smith grabbed six boards.
Concord was led by Boyd and Hamlet who each scored 14 points, Hamlet making three triples. Cam Shannon also scored in double-digits with 12. A trio of Mountain Lions grabbed six rebounds, Nick Moyer, Cam Shannon and Hamlet, while Boyd and Terry Hopewell each pulled down five.
“We were active for about four minutes of the game and then later when we were behind, but we haven’t proven to be able to handle when school is out of session and we’ve got to be there, by ourselves at school and practice. We haven’t been able to handle that.” said CU head coach Kent McBride.
“Defensively it wasn’t too bad with what we did, but we just didn’t play with fire and we haven’t for some time and I just don’t know the answer to that.”
Concord, now 5-5, will take on NCAA Division II No. 1 West Liberty on Thursday.
Bluefield State with the win moved to 4-9 and avenged a last-second loss to the Mountain Lions on Nov. 18. Jackson believes the team is starting to come together.
“It has been hard, especially in November with so many games. We’ve played 14, 15 games and we missed a lot of practice time that other teams got because of us playing every day,” Jackson pointed out.
“As we practice more and we’re together more, they build their chemistry up and trust each other more.”
Bluefield State will host its oldest rival on Wednesday night, West Virginia State.
— Contact Bob Redd at