By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD — Close, but no cigar.
The Chowan University Hawks got a three point basket at the buzzer to beat the Bluefield State College Big Blues 70-68, Saturday night in the concluding game of the 2012 Currence Classic at Ned Shott Gymnasium.
Greg Alston fired in the shot from the left wing and the buzzer sounded as the ball went through the net giving the Hawks the win.
“I don’t see it as a moral victory,” said BSC head coach Jamaal Jackson. “We dug ourselves a hole and we had to fight back. We shot 58 percent from the free throw line which is unacceptable. We miss 11 free throws and lose by three. That’s disappointing.”
The Big Blues (0-3) battled all game as Chowan (4-2) raced out to a seven point lead in the game’s first two minutes. State clawed back and from midway through the first half until intermission, the game remained in the six-to-eight point range with Chowan holding the lead.
Treon Claiborne’s four-point play, he was fouled on a successful three point shot, brought the Big Blues to within four with 48 ticks on the first half clock, and Gary Martin’s two free throws with 16.1 to go bought State to within two points. However, a fast-break dunk by Ashante Ross with one second to go gave Chowan a four point halftime lead, 31-27.
Key in the first half was free throw shooting. Chowan connected on 15-of-20 charity tosses, while Bluefield State struggled, making only five-of-12.
The beginning of the second half became the Vincent Rogers show as the BSC power forward brought he Blues to within two and then one and provided State with strong inside play.
Simeon Denny’s trey tied the game at 43, but Chowan went on a run to take a nine point lead midway through the final 20 minutes.
Just as in the first half, the Big Blues battled back. Rogers made two free throws after he was intentionally fouled, then his bucket underneath made it a two-point game, 59-57, with 6:42 remaining in the game. His three point play the old-fashioned way gave Bluefield State its first lead of the night at 66-65.
Chowan turned the ball over with 1:35 left, and 30 seconds later State returned the favor.
Kortez Smith made one-of-two free throws to tied the game at 66, then he made a free throw with 25.9 seconds left to give Chowan a 67-66 advantage.
Antoine Bryant sank a floater in the lane with 9.7 on the clock to give BSC a 68-67 lead at which time Chowan called its final time-out.
Driving the length of the court, the Hawks got the ball to Alston on the left wing, who sank the game-winning shot from 20 feet away.
Rogers led Bluefield State with 18 points. He also had four rebounds, a block and a steal.
“He (Rogers) wanted it, he was hungry,” Jackson commented. “He missed a few free throws, but for the most part he really played hard on the offensive end and even got a few defensive stops.”
Martin tallied 13 with a game-high nine rebounds, and Samuel Ouedraogo came off the bench to grab eight boards. Bluefield State won the rebounding battle 36-32. Following Friday night’s game Jackson said he needed his big men involved more in rebounding. That came to fruition against Chowan.
“Sam (Ouedraogo) played minimum minutes but had eight rebounds,” Jackson said. “Gary (Martin) played hard on the boards, he had nine. Vincent (Rogers), even though he only had four rebounds, he had crucial buckets and shot 70 percent from the floor.”
Kyree Bethel led Chowan with a game-high 19 points, including five three pointers. Alston finished with 13 and Ross added 12. Quinton McDuffie snagged seven rebounds.
Bluefield State returns to action Thursday night as they host Glenville State in a WVIAC contest. The Lady Blues take to the court at 5:30, the Big Blues play at 7 p.m.
WVU Tech 80, Lander 76
The WVU Tech Golden Bears (8-4) downed the Lander Bearcats (3-1) in Saturday’s first game at the Currence Classic.
Lander ran out to a 10-0 lead to start the game, but the Bears clawed back and the game was tied at 31 at the intermission.
Brandon Burgraff led WVUT with 23 points including six three point buckets. David Rawlinson had 18, Jaren Marino 15 and Terrale Clark 11. Marino cleared the glass for 12 rebounds.
Corey Wright and Jareal Smith led Lander with 18 points apiece. Dermaine Smith had 12, Darius Carrier 11, and David Pruett 10 for the Bearcats who suffered their first defeat of the season. Dermaine Smith had a game-high 19 rebounds.