By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Rachel Artrip scored 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds while Andrea Bertrand fired in 16 with nine boards to lead the Concord Lady Mountain Lions to a 72-59 win over the Bluefield State Lady Blues, Monday evening at the Carter Center on the CU campus.
“There are some days when I look at them and say we’ve got a chance. Some days I look at them and say we aren’t going to win another game,” said Concord head coach Kenny Osborne.
“I like the improvement our team has made since last March. We were not going to go through another season like we did last year and I challenged them to get better and I think they showed that tonight.
“Last year I think we let this one get away, but we found a way to win it.”
BSC drew first blood on a layup by Adana David and Bertrand’s two free throws tied the game at two. State moved out to a six point lead thanks to a basket by Shae Mebane and a long deuce by Kearah Jeffreys.
CU fought back to take its first lead on a block by Artrip who then raced down court took the pass and made the layup. At the first media timeout at 14:52 the Lady Blues led by a point, 11-10, taking the lead on two Tasia Nolan free throws.
Early on BSC was tough on the offensive boards as Hope Smith and Mebane kept the Lady Lions at bay.
Bluefield State pulled back ahead by four on a Jeffreys jumper with 11:30 left in the half, but Concord went into the bonus with 10:50 left and two free throws by Cissy Wagner began the Lady Lions’ comeback.
Bertrand dropped two charity tosses through the hoop to tie the game at 18 and Melea Smith’s trey with 9:15 before the half put Concord ahead 21-18. It would be a lead the Lady Lions would not let go.
CU’s lead grew as high as nine points in the half on Sammi Webster’s bucket down low with just over six minutes to play, but BSC fought back.
Shay Gravely’s layup at the 5:31 mark made it a four point game. Concord carried a six-point lead, 35-29 into the intermission.
In the first half Smith had six rebounds for Bluefield State, while Webster had six boards for Concord.
Starting the second half BSC went down low to Mebane who scored six of the team’s first eight points in the half to cut the CU lead to three. At the media timeout the Concord lead was three, 41-38. Concord slowly began to pull away.
Two free throws by Wagner pushed the lead to seven and later in the half Artrip’s three gave the home team its largest lead at the time, 10 points, 63-53 at the media timeout with 4:57 remaining in the game.
While Bluefield State battled to the final buzzer, the Lady Blues could not finish. The out-rebounded Concord for the game 45-41, but missed many putbacks and layups.
A somber Bluefield State head coach J.J. Oliver took the blame for the loss.
“We just didn’t play any defense. We are not a well-coached team right now, its coach failed,” Oliver said. “We need to get better or find a new coach. I don’t like the product we put on the floor right now.
“We’re not playing any defense and are allowing totally too many points. We’re not disciplined as a team.”
In addition to Artrip’s 20 and Bertrand’s 20 points, Wagner added 13 for Concord and dished out six assists.
Mebane led BSC with 12 points and eight rebounds. Tenika Jackson came off the bench to score 10. Smith Finished with nine rebounds, a block and two assists.
Concord’s Osborne added, “I thought we had energy and beat a very good basketball team. Bluefield State is athletic, they’re well-coached but they’re road weary. They’ve been on the road at Fairmont State, IUP, Alabama (State).
“That helped us in the second half where we had a little more energy and that was key to our win.”
With the win Concord improved to 2-1 and will visit Davis and Elkins, Thursday. Bluefield State dropped to 0-3 overall and will host Frances Marion, Saturday afternoon at the Ned Shott Gymnasium.