Men's game: W.Va. Wesleyan 75, Bluefield State 60
It’s hard to dig out of a 17-point halftime hole.
The Bluefield State Big Blues gave it quite a shot in the second half on Saturday at the Ned Shott Gym, holding the West Virginia Wesleyan scoreless for almost 10 minutes, but eventually took a 75-60 loss, their third in a row.
The visiting Bobcats scored four unanswered three-pointers early to lead 26-8.
“This is a tough place to play,” said West Virginia Wesleyan coach Patrick Beilein, “so we were very fortunate to come in here and get off to a great start.”
Bluefield State head coach Jamaal Jackson said, “We were unable to locate the shooters, and they were hot. ... We really dug ourselves a hole at halftime.”
Caleb Ashley was 6 for 6 in the first 20 minutes, connecting on all four of his shots from three-point range. He finished the day 8 of 9 from the field.
“We came out with fire, pretty much,” Ashley said. “We had a tough couple of games, coming in, so we just told ourselves, ‘Come out, have poise. We’re on the road. Come out relaxed, and have fun.’ That’s what we did.
“My teammates got me open for shots, so I give all the credit to them.”
The halftime margin could have been worse, but Wesleyan (9-12, 6-11 WVIAC) went 0 for 5 in the final four minutes of the period and Bluefield State (2-19, 2-15) scored the last 11 points — including six by Remar Brothers off the bench — to trail 50-33.
The Big Blues definitely missed having senior Vincent Rogers in the post. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound forward has been out since Jan. 21.
“With Rogers out,” Jackson said, “we’ve turned into a three-point-shooting team. If we can’t hit threes, we’re basically dead. And tonight, we couldn’t hit them.”
“Put that on top of not being able to locate the shooters, and then they shot lights out. They shot 65 percent (11 for 17 from three-point range) for the night.”
The second half opened with Bluefield State going 1 for 7 from the field and Wesleyan making 4 of 6 shots. Kelsey Williams’ long jump-shot gave the Bobcats a 25-point edge, 63-38, with five minutes gone in the half.
Their next scores came on a pair of free throws by Williams with 5:15 remaining, after the Big Blues had scored 15 straight points to narrow the spread to 63-53.
Beilein, a former WVU player for his father John Beilein, said, “We were missing some easy layups there underneath and they (Bluefield State players) are long and they’re athletic ... and they did a good job of turning up the defense.”
“It was a difficult stretch there, but we held it together. We’ve come a long way. That’s happened in the past, and we’ve learned from it, how to hold it together mentally.”
Jackson said, “We talked about pushing the ball for 40 minutes. We knew they weren’t a deep team, so we talked about pushing it, but for whatever reason, we didn’t. Once we started pushing the ball, and locked down defensively, we were able to cut into their lead.
“But it was too little, too late. This game is 40 minutes, not five or 10 minutes.”
Bluefield State was 1 for 5 in field goal tries in the final two minutes and Wesleyan built its final margin.
Ashley said, “They made a run. We had a couple of timeouts, where we told the guys, ‘Keep your poise. We’re on the road. It’s going to get loud. They’re going to make a run. What are we going to do to fight back? Keep our poise.’ And that’s what we did.”
The Big Blues made a third of their attempts in the game (23 for 69) and went 5 for 29 in three-point tries.
Jackson said, “Even if we’re shooting that bad, we got within 10, that was the closest we got. We just couldn’t knock ’em down.”
He noted that freshman Avery Holliday’s effectiveness was limited by foul trouble.
The coach said, “He got some early fouls. He got two or three fouls I didn’t even agree with at all, so that hurt us. They had four team fouls in the entire second half.”
Ashley, who Beilein said was coming off a severe ankle injury, had 22 points and dished out four of Wesleyan’s 19 assists.
Beilein said, “I think he’s just starting to get his stride back, and a feel for the game. If he makes his first one, there’s a good chance that he’s going to make a lot in the game.”
Williams notched 20 points and 13 rebounds. Wesleyan canned half their field goal tries (28 of 56).
Brothers led Bluefield State with 15 points and Treon Claiborne had 13 points. Each had seven rebounds, while Steven Pierre led BSC rebounders with nine.
Bluefield State hosts Ohio Valley on Monday evening.
Jackson said, “We have a team goal for these final 10 games. Right now, we’re 2-3. Hopefully, we can reach our goal. But Ohio Valley, who beat us early in the season, they come in here. So we’ve just got to focus on that.”
— Contact Tom Bone at email@example.com