Much has changed since the last basketball meetings between Bluefield State College and their neighbors across the state line, Bluefield College.
What should remain the same in tonight’s rematch is the excitement that the “Battle of the Bluefields” brings to the teams and their fans.
The women’s game will tip off at 5:30 tonight at the Ned Shott Gym on the BSC campus. The men’s game will begin at about 7:30.
Bluefield State is facing this season as an independent, with the demise of the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The BC Rams continue to strive to be competitive in what is arguably the NAIA’s most talented conference, the Mid-South.
Both women’s teams will put new point guards on the floor. The men’s teams will face the new season without their top scorers from last year.
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Men: Bluefield State’s Treon Claiborne opened his senior year with a double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds in the Big Blues’ season-opener Sunday, a 101-86 loss at Tiffin University. Sam Ouedraogo had an impressive 17 rebounds. Five others return to the BSC roster.
Point guard Kearsten Marion will direct the Rams. Last season he averaged 15.9 points per game and had a team-high 88 assists and 46 steals. Andrew Wilson tossed in 17 points on average in half a season; Josh Nesbit provided 8.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per outing.
In last year’s Battle, Marion scored 24 points, with some excellent 3-point shooting, in a 90-76 win by Bluefield College on its own court on the day after Election Day. The Blues shot 38.5 percent from the field, compared to 50.8 for the Rams.
Remar Brothers led BSC with 18 points and three steals, while Claiborne added 10 points and six rebounds. The bigger Big Blues held a 46-42 rebounding advantage.
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Women: The Lady Rams are led by Teqa McNeal, an NCCAA all-American who averaged 17.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last year. An inside complement is senior Janee Simmons, who scored 11.5 points and rebounded 8.7 balls on average last season.
The Lady Blues will look to Tasia Nolan to spark the team, supported by a pair with similar first names — post player Shea Mebane, an all-conference honorable mention last season, and guard Shay Gravely.
Bluefield College took a 73-64 win in the 2012 meeting at the Dome Gymnasium at BC, after leading by a single point, 33-32, at halftime. McNeal and Ashley White each had 16 points for the Lady Rams.
The Lady Blues’ top performer was Charity Harris with 11 points, six assists and four steals — but she will be inactive this season after hurting the ACL in her knee. Mebane had six rebounds and two blocks, and Nolan chipped in seven points.
The game included 47 fouls.