By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD, Va. —
After getting in gear, the Bluefield College Rams put themselves in the driver’s seat at the 2013 Ramey Car Classic on Friday night.
The Rams held Barber-Scotia College without a field goal in a 12-minute stretch spanning halftime and cruised to a 74-52 victory over the Sabers (0-11) in the Dome Gymnasium on the opening night of the second annual classic.
The two teams traded 6-0 runs to begin the game. At the first media timeout, Bluefield (4-2) head coach Richard Morgan sought to get his team’s focus back on track.
“It’s exam time,” Morgan said. “Guys are trying to go home and make sure they have all of their plans together, (but) we’ve got work to do. They’ve got to pass the exams; they’ve got to concentrate on that. I understand that.
“But we’ve got a tournament here. Ramey has been nice enough to do this tournament for us, and we owe it to the public to go out and play hard every night, and I just didn’t feel like they were playing hard. So I had to let them know that, in a nice way.”
A three-pointer by BC’s Kyle Grigsby broke an 8-8 tie, and the home team did not trail after that. Consecutive baskets by Eric Dukes gave the Rams a 17-11 edge at the midpoint of the half.
The Sabers’ only first-half points after that came on a trey by Deshawn Mosely and four free throws. Barber-Scotia turned the ball over 10 times in the first half.
Senior Josh Nesbit had all of Bluefield’s first six points, and by intermission his scoreline already showed 11 points and eight rebounds. He finished the game with 19 points on 7-for-11 floor shooting, plus 11 rebounds and two steals.
Morgan said, “I think he was out there (early in the game), by himself, trying to make sure he was rebounding for us. That’s one of the things we want him to do, is rebound for us, and he does that.”
“He got us going tonight. He kept us in it, and the rest of the guys followed suit.”
Nesbit said that Morgan had emphasized Bluefield’s height advantage prior to tipoff. “The main thing was going inside and getting the easy basket. So I came out really aggressive.”
“It was a team effort and a great win for us. ... We have extremely fast guards and everything, and it actually helps me. When they throw me the ball, my thing is to go in the post and go up strong.”
“Coach Morgan, he presses us and pushes us every day to get better, rebounding. That’s our main thing.”
Bluefield concluded with a 47 to 33 rebounding edge.
The Rams pushed their lead to 23 points about five minutes into the second half on a putback by Mid-South Conference Player of the Week Alex Lubsey.
Bluefield scored one single point in a six-minute stretch, allowing the Sabers to climb back with 15 points at 56-41 with 5:32 left. Back-to-back 3-pointers by the Rams’ Nick Stathopoulos turned that around for good.
Bluefield made eight steals and four blocks in the contest and held the visitors to 32 percent shooting from the floor, while scoring on 41 percent of their field-goal tries.
Nesbit said, “We play so hard on defense. We talk about getting stops all the time. Defense is our main thing, playing help defense. ... Tonight, we played hard on defense — well, I can’t say we played hard. We played OK on defense. But it was a great team effort.”
Morgan said, “We’ve got to play better defense, we’ve got to hold our own and make sure we’re aware of the shooters. But the biggest thing for us is just playing with energy, playing hard and getting out there, every possession.”
Ricky Bowser came off the Sabers’ bench to score 14 points. Carlos Benton had 12 and Dequan Horn added 10 points.
Barber-Scotia coach Marc Pryor said, “We’re still learning. We’ve got to learn how to compete. We’re coming together, day by day. ... Hats off to Bluefield. They played a great game, very disciplined. They hustled very well.”
“We’ve just got to stop shooting ourselves in the foot.”
In the day’s first game, St. Catharine College made 14 of 22 free throws in the second half to pull away from West Virginia Tech by a final score of 89-80. Tech’s Golden Bears (8-4) tried only five free throws after halftime.
St. Catharine (5-3) pulled off 17 steals and enjoyed a 43 to 33 rebounding advantage. William Tolefree led SCC with 21 points and seven boards. Tech’s Brandon Burgraff led all scorers with 27 points.
The classic concludes today with a 2 p.m. game between Barber-Scotia and St. Catharine College, followed at about 4 p.m. by the Rams’ game with West Virginia Tech.
— Contact Tom Bone at