By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD, Va. —
Courtney “Pip” Pattison is a soccer player in a basketball uniform.
With injuries limiting the Lady Rams to just six players, Bluefield College women’s basketball coach M.J. Baker went looking for reinforcements.
She found Pattison, an All-Mid South Conference soccer player, who scored three points and snagged two steals in 16 minutes for the Rams on Saturday in helping Bluefield College defeat Pikeville 79-54 in a Mid-South Conference contest at the Dome Gymnasium.
“We are really searching right now because we are really low on numbers with some injuries that we came across so we are down to six and our seventh one, Pip, is a soccer player that we picked up two days ago and she came in and has been playing great minutes for us,” Baker said. “They know they have no room for any letdowns.”
There were none, including on Thursday when the Rams beat Virginia-Wise with just six players on the floor. Baker hopes to get at least two of four injured players back in time for Thursday’s contest at Lindsay Wilson.
“Thursday, we had six, today we had seven,” said Baker, who added that the Lady Rams may have been inspired by watching Avengers on Friday night. “Its shows a lot of character in the face of adversity and they came together...They worked really work and they know we can’t have any letdowns for anyone.”
Bluefield College (12-4, 4-2) jumped out to a 9-0 lead, and, while being led by 12 points from Monique Robson and 11 by Tequila McNeal, built the margin to as high as 13 in the opening half before taking a 33-23 lead into the break.
Pikeville (5-8, 2-4) cut the margin to 35-28 on five quick points by Brogan Conley to open the second half, but the Rams went on a 15-2 run to take a 55-33 lead on a McNeal 3, and the Bears began to clear the bench with more than 12 minutes left in the game.
McNeal led the Rams with 24 points, five assists and five rebounds, while senior point guard Ashley White played the part well with 14 points, eight assists and four steals. McNeal had four 3s for Bluefield.
“Ashley White, who we call ‘Penny,’ she is our backbone,” Baker said. “Between her and Tequila McNeal, they hold us together, they are our toughness and they are who makes us go.
“Without her I don’t know what we would do right now.”
Bluefield also got 18 points, 10 boards, four assists and four steals from Robson, while Janee Simmons continued her strong play, contributing a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds.
“The last four games Janee has played very well, dominating the boards, playing good defense,” Baker said. “Unfortunately she has got into some foul trouble here and there, but she has been almost a double-double for us every game.”
Maryah Mazyck added seven points, six boards, five assists and two steals for Bluefield, while Bria Moore had two points, two boards and two assists.
Bluefield outrebounded the Bears 50-39 and shot 43.1 percent from the field. The Rams improved to 8-0 this season at home.
Pikeville had no shortage of players, with 13 seeing action, and 10 for at least 10 minutes of action, but the Bears never led, as the Bluefield lead grew to as much as 28 in the second half.
The Bears were led by Kayla Day with 11 points, while Peyton Wright contributed eight rebounds and three blocked shots.
Baker has been pleasantly surprised by her squad this season, having compiled a 12-4 mark, including a 4-2 record that is good for fourth place in the MSC, which currently has five teams ranked in the NAIA national rankings.
Not bad for a team in its debut in the MSC that was picked last in the preseason polls.
“I didn’t know, it was kind of unexpected, but I knew I had a good group of girls that work really hard,” Baker said. “When you have that you never know what can happen.”
Even with a soccer player on the basketball court.
“This is actually Pip’s second game, she is a soccer player,” said White, a senior transfer from Philadelphia. “You have got to do what you have got to do, but she is really helping us a lot.”
— Contact Brian Woodson