Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

March 2, 2014

Bluefield takes win streak to MSC tourney

By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD, Va. — Up next is the Mid-South Conference tournament, a destination that the Rams missed out on last season.

All that waits on Thursday in Lebanon, Tenn., is second seeded Georgetown, and all the Tigers did last season was win the NAIA national championship.

“It won’t be any easier,” Bluefield head coach Richard Morgan said. “I think we will go in there and compete hard like we always do and then let the chips fall where they may.”

At least the Rams will go in with a win streak, claiming its second straight victory with a 54-45 MSC win over Campbellsville on Senior Day at the Dome Gymnasium on Saturday.

Bluefield honored four seniors, including 1,000-point scorer Kearsten Marion, who finished with eight points, seven rebounds and two assists), Josh Nesbit (16 points, 8 rebounds), Alex Lubsey (10 points, 8 rebounds) and Nick Stathopoulos (2 assists).

“To send the seniors off right, I thought they did well,” Morgan said. “There was a little stretch in there where we let down a little bit, but then they got back focused and we went on from there.”

Bluefield (15-11 8-10) led from start to finish, holding the Tigers to 12 points in the opening half, with Campbellsville scoring one point over the final 12:17 before the break, with the Rams leading 23-12.

“The other team is always going to make a run,” Morgan said. “They scored 12 points in the first half, you knew they were going to come out and play better.”

Campbellsville (14-14, 9-9) finished snapped its scoreless streak on a basket by Elliott Young two possessions into the second half. Bluefield answered, with a 3 from Marion pushing the Rams up 32-17 with 15:11 on the clock.

Marion has been a three-year starter for the Rams, who reached the 1,000-point mark in his career earlier this season.

“When (Kearsten) got here to take over the point guard spot, it was secure for three years,” Morgan said. “Now I have got to go out and find me another one, but luckily I have got some guys on the bench that will be available. He meant so much to the program with his outside shooting, his key free throws down the stretch.”

Campbellsville, which 16 percent (4-25) in the first half, and 27.6 (16-58) for the game, had no one finish in double figures, but the Tigers still managed to finally pull to within two on consecutive trips down the floor, the final time with 5:02 left on the clock.

Six-foot-10 A’Darius Pegues and Darius Clement had eight points each for the Tigers.

“I thought our guys held together and they did what we have been working on all year,” Morgan said. “I was very pleased with the effort and very pleased with the guys that went out and competed hard and finished things out right.”

Another scoring drought followed for the Tigers, who had just five more points, with the Rams using a 7-0 run, keyed by Nesbit who finished with 10 second half points. Lubsey had a pair of spectacular blocked shots to help to keep Campbellsville off the board.

Andrew Wilson added 12 points for Bluefield, which will play Georgetown in the MSC tourney on Thursday, and will host the National Christian College Athletic Assocation (NCCAA) Mid-East Regional the following week.

Morgan had reason to smile after Saturday’s game. A former standout at the University of Virginia, his Cavaliers secured the ACC title with a win over Syracuse, and his Rams are back in the postseason after failing to qualify for tournament play last March.

“We are starting to click now and getting a little bit better looks every night in,” Morgan said. “I think the thing is now is to get ready for tournament time, anything can happen in the tournament.”

•The 1998-99 Bluefield College men’s basketball team was introduced at halftime on what is the 15-year anniversary of the Rams’ upset win over No. 3 Southern Oregon in the NAIA National Tournament.