By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
A collegian who once wore the uniform of St. John’s was on the court at Concord University on Saturday, and showed off some D-1 talent on behalf of Fairmont State University.
Malik Stith was one of four Falcons in double figures and the ex-Red Storm guard provided seven assists and four steals to help FSU defeat the Mountain Lions 79-59 at the Carter Center.
“Having Malik Stith, from St. John’s, at the point guard is terrific,” said first-year coach Jerrod Calhoun of Fairmont State (9-3, 7-1 WVIAC). “He just makes everybody so much better.”
Concord (8-4, 4-4) guard Mike Boyd had the spotlight, though, at the start. He opened the scoring with a three-pointer, a minute and a half into the contest, and added a baseline jumper for a 5-0 home lead.
Concord’s lead held until Stith scored three straight field goals in less than two minutes. The outburst was part of a 19 to 3 Fairmont State streak that led to a 35-21 advantage.
The Mountain Lions reeled off the final eight points of the half to cut their deficit to 37-30 at the break, but the visitors had enough runs left to hike their lead up to as many as 23 points late in the second half.
Concord second-year coach Kent McBride said, “We started off well. They made a run in the first half, and then we started attacking the rim and got to the free throw line, which kept us in the game.
“But we left a lot of empty points on the free throw line. We’re typically a very good free-throw-shooting team, and we got (18) points out there ... which is uncharacteristic.
“I’m not mad at the guys over that. It’s not intentional. It’s just one of those days.”
Boyd said of the 18-for-34 free throw total, “They just wouldn’t sink today. ... It was a good effort. We played hard, but we had a lot of turnovers and missed a lot of free throws. That cost us the game.”
“On offense, we were getting pressured; we were letting them pressure us. We can’t let them do that.”
McBride said, “In the second half, we didn’t turn over the ball a lot, but the type of turnovers ... . (Before the game) we had discussed live-ball turnovers, and things we can’t have. And we did. And they’re so quick at the other end, they convert.”
Perhaps the most telling statistic was the 29 points the Falcons scored off Concord turnovers, which added up to 15 by game’s end.
“We’re a very, very good transition team,” said Calhoun, who was an assistant coach for Bob Huggins at Cincinnati and at WVU. “These kids can all pass, and it’s an unselfish team. That’s what makes us so good. We pass the ball and we get open shots.”
McBride said, “When you get easy baskets, you start feeling better about yourself, and they did.”
Fairmont State, second in the West Virginia Conference power ratings, shot 56.4 percent from the field in the game. Several of their field goals were transition layups or dunks, McBride observed.
“I felt, in the half court, we did a pretty good job defensively, though the stats may not reflect that,” the Concord coach said.
Boyd concluded with 16 points, three assists and five rebounds. Damien Tunstalle chipped in 11 points and six rebounds, while Thomas Brown added three assists for CU.
Saturday’s contest was the first of four in a seven-day stretch for Concord. After Monday’s trip to Davis & Elkins (3-8), the Mountain Lions play home games with Alderson-Broaddus (8-3) on Thursday and top-ranked West Liberty (14-0) next Saturday.
McBride said, “We had the No. 2 team in the conference here today. We’ve got No. 3 on Thursday and No. 1 in the country on Saturday. ... The chance to do great things is here.”
To make good on that chance, there is still ground for Concord to cover, their coach said. “We’ve got to learn from our mistakes,” McBride said. “We keep making the same ones. We’ve got to fix them.”
Boyd said, “Coach said, we’ve got 18 hours to forget about this game, then we’ve got to focus on D&E. So that’s what’s on our minds now.”
— Contact Tom Bone at