Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

January 25, 2013

Futility ended!

Hard work paying off for Big Blues

BLUEFIELD — Bluefield State 84, Glenville State 75.

That line score is historic as it marked the end of nearly two seasons of futility for the Big Blues, who until Thursday night were riding a 41-game losing streak.

Nov. 22, 2011, the Big Blues defeated the Maroons of Roanoke College to even their season record to 1-1. Jamaal Jackson, hired just days before practice began a month earlier, had picked up his first victory as interim coach at BSC.

Chase Morgan, a local product who played high school ball at Wyoming East,  scored 32 points and Trevor Niles from Cincinnati, Ohio had a double-double.

Three days later the Big Blues took to the court in the Currence Classic against Tusculum College. The Pioneers defeated BSC 97-79 and it would be quite some time before the thrill of victory encompassed the Bluefield State men’s basketball team. When the counting stopped the Big Blues went 424 days between victories.

Along the way there were narrow losses and blowouts. No. 3 was a five point decision to Ohio Valley. No. 10 was a 65 point loss, 139-74 to the top team in the naton, West Liberty. The Hilltoppers were also No. 14 on the list with a 41-point win over the Big Blues.

The 2011-12 Big Blues lost 24 of the games in the streak with a team that on most nights had seven players in uniform. The average margin of defeat last season was 24.37. Of those losses only one, to Ohio Valley was by fewer than 10 points.

Jackson had the “interim” tag removed from his title as the 2012-13 season got underway. In his second year at the helm new and more recruits joined the team and an air of excitement surrounded the squad.

Nov. 24, 2012 against Chowan in the Currence Classic the streak nearly came to an end. The Big Blues battled but fell to the Hawks 70-68. In the team’s next outing against Glenville State victory loomed, but the Pioneers prevailed 91-82.

A five point loss at Virginia Intermont and a three point defeat at the hands of Alderson-Broaddus finished the calendar year 2012 with the Big Blues looking to get that final push needed to claim a win.

The first game of 2013 was against Mercer County rival Concord. A tough battle at Ned Shott Gymnasium, the game came down to the final moments but the Mountain Lions came out on top by four points, 72-68 and the futility streak stood at 34. Three nights later it was a similar story as a second-half lead wilted and Davis and Elkins took a nine point win.

A familiar theme was evolving with the 2012-13 Big Blues, they played hard, they played with energy, but they just could not get over the hump in the game’s final minutes for the win. The team was improving and one point of evidence was the margin of defeat, down from the previous yaer’s 24.37 to 11.18. After playing only two games in 2011-12 where they lost by 10 or fewer points, in the first 16 games of this season the Big Blues had 10 such contests.

On a snowy Thursday night, Jan. 17, the Big Blues looked like they would snap the streak. Ahead with 90 seconds to play against the Wheeling Jesuit Cardinals, turnovers gave the game to the visitors from the Northern Panhandle and the streak continued.

The proverbial monkey that turned into a gorilla on the back of the BSC basketball program was lifted Thursday night with the win at Glenville State.

The Pioneers carried a 38-32 lead into halftime, but the Big Blues opened the second half on a 13-6 run. Treon Claiborne sunk a layup at the 16:04 mark to cap off the run and give BSC a 45-44 lead, a lead they would maintain for the remainder of the game. Roy Copper drained a three on the Big Blues ensuing possession to give BSC a four-point lead.

Bluefield State extended its lead to nine, 60-51 on a Joseph Dawkins layup with 9:59 left in regulation but the Pioneers clawed their way back into the game and cut BSC’s lead to one, 73-72 on a free-throw from Jamel Morris at the 2:36 mark. But two Cooper free-throws pushed the Big Blues lead back to three, 75-72 and BSC closed the game on a 9-3 spurt highlighted by a back-breaking three from Cooper, his fourth three of the game, to secure the win.

Dawkins and Cooper provided the offensive spark with 26 and 22 points respectively. Dawkins is in his first year with the program while Cooper was a member of the 2011-12. Sam Ouedraogo, playing his first year at BSC, had a game-high 10 rebounds.

With one streak ended the Big Blues look to start another one when they host Shepherd this afternoon at 4 p.m. The Lady Blues get the day started hosting the women from Shepherd at 2 o’clock.

— Contact Bob Redd at bredd@bdtonline.com

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