Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

February 16, 2014

Rams' last-chance shot goes off the rim

BLUEFIELD, Va. — It looked good to R.J. Scott, and to just about everyone else at the Dome Gymnasium.

Instead, Andrew Wilson’s 3-point shot at the buzzer hit off the rim, and the University of the Cumberlands was able to escape Bluefield College with a 73-71 Mid-South Conference victory on Saturday afternoon at the Dome Gymnasium.

“When it went up it looked good, but it rolled out and we were able to secure the rebound and take the win home,” said Scott, a senior, who led the Patriots with 17 points.

Cumberlands (15-9, 7-7) led from start to finish, with the Rams struggling from the beginning — even before the opening tip — thanks to their choice of footwear.

“We didn’t make the plays we needed to make down the stretch,” said Bluefield head coach Richard Morgan, whose Rams will host No. 19 Georgetown on Monday. “It started in pregame, they came out with their own shoes on, and I don’t allow that, they wear our gear.

“The guys think they have arrived and they think they are better so this is exactly what they needed because they think they can do it without me and it is not going to happen like that.

“What they got they deserved and we have got to move on now, we have got to get ready for Monday.”

Cumberlands made it a clean sweep of the Rams, with the Patriots also winning the previous contest by two points, 73-71, last month.

“We went to the end with them at our house too, but they were good games,” Scott said. “It is always fun playing them.”

Scott, a senior who previously played at the Division I level with Central Florida and Troy, put the Patriots up to stay with four 3s in the opening four minutes, with Cumberland making its first five shot attempts for a 14-5 lead.

He finished the game with four of Cumberland’s nine 3s, and also pulled down six rebounds.  

“At the beginning of the year I wasn’t shooting it too well so I was taking it to the goal a lot, but recently here I have been catching fire so I take my open looks,” Scott said. “I just thank my teammates for getting the ball to me and I thank God.”

Wilson, who finished with 16 points, four steals and three assists, had nine of those points in the opening four minutes, and Kearsten Marion — who led all scorers with 26 points — added five, but the Rams still trailed 32-18 with 8:46 left in the half.  

The Rams did narrow the margin to 40-35 at the break, led by 14 points from Marion. Twenty-seven of Bluefield’s 35 points came from its three guards, with the other eight coming from Lubsey, who finished with 16 points and a team-leading six rebounds.

Bluefield, which is known for running the floor, actually slowed it down and played halfcourt at times, but Morgan said it wasn’t a new strategy for the Rams.

“It was the way the game went today,” Morgan said. “We weren’t here today, for whatever reason we weren’t here, that is what you get when you don’t come prepared to play.”

It was Bluefield’s first game in a week after its contest with Georgetown was postponed on Thursday, but Morgan — whose Rams had a three-game win streak snapped — wasn’t looking for excuses.

“I don’t know, you can blame it on anything, but the bottom line is we didn’t play hard today and we didn’t bring it and we got what we deserved,” he said.

Lubsey pulled Bluefield within 40-37 on the opening possession of the second half, but the Rams didn’t get that close again until a 3 by Wilson with 36.7 seconds left made it 73-71.

James Archie, who had 14 points, and Tony Bradley, who had nine points and seven boards, helped the Patriots maintain its lead, eventually building a 71-64 lead on a layup by Scott with 1:18 left in the game.

 “It is our defense, that is what we always talk about is defense,” Scott said. “It starts on the defensive end. Defense leads to offense, that is what we really preached before the game and that is what we stuck too.”

Bluefield was able to force a pair of turnovers and the Patriots missed two front ends of a 1-on-1 to allow the Rams to pull within two with just over 37 seconds to go.

Controversy would soon follow. After Scott missed a free throw with 19.7 seconds left, the horn blew at the scorer’s table signifying that Bluefield’s Devin Page had picked up his fifth foul.

Instead, the game continued and Wilson drove to the basket, but couldn’t get his shot to drop.

Both coaches confronted the officials, and a meeting commenced at the scorer’s table. Eventually, 8.2 seconds were put back on the clock, and Shaquille Lowery, who had rebounded the Wilson miss and was fouled, was sent to the free throw line.

“It happens like that sometimes,” Scott said. “You have got to play through it.”

Cumberland head coach Donnie Butcher heard the officials say he would be shooting two, but it was just the ninth foul on Bluefield so it wound up being a 1-and-1, which he missed.

Bluefield grabbed the rebound, Wilson drove it downcourt and took the shot, but it bounced off the rim at the buzzer.

Butcher, who was still screaming about not getting two shots, Scott and the Patriots left in relief, ready to make the 4-plus hour drive back home. Michael Dow added 12 points for Cumberlands, which shot 52.8 percent from the field. Lowery dished out seven assists.

“It was a really exciting game,” Scott said. “Both teams battled until the end, but we were able to pull it out.”

Marion, Lubsey and Wilson had 58 of the Rams’ 71 points. No one else had more than four. Cumberlands outrebounded Bluefield 42-22. The Rams did have just three turnovers to 15 for the Patriots.

Bluefield will look to regroup on Monday against George-town, which entered Saturday action ranked 19th among NAIA schools in the nation, and tied for second in the MSC.

Georgetown, which won the NAIA national championship last season, lost to the Rams in its lone trip to the Dome last December.

Morgan will be looking for a better effort from his Rams when the Tigers arrive in Bluefield.  

“Just come back and be ready to play, make shots, and defend somebody,” Morgan said. “That is what we don’t do right now.”

—Contact Brian Woodson at bwoodson@bdtonline.com

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