By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
If you left the Bluefield State-Concord basketball game before the final buzzer sounded, you missed some great action for it was good to the last shot.
That last shot, just across mid-court from A.J. Williams kissed off the glass and through the net as the buzzer sounded, breaking a 78-78 tie and giving the CU Mountain Lions an 81-78 win over the BSC Big Blues.
“I went up, caught the ball and when I came down I stumbled and I was like, ‘Dang, I hope I don’t lose the ball,’” Williams said. “I took a couple of steps and threw it up. When it left my hand I knew it was going to go off the glass, but I just got lucky. Sometimes luck is on your side.”
Concord head coach Kent McBride described the final play.
“That was one of our options out of the huddle. I didn’t call the bank, so I guess I got everything right but the bank,” McBride said. “He (Williams) was one option, we had another one coming and I told him with 2.8 seconds left, it’s time for two dribbles and I think he took one, maybe two, threw one up and it’s kind of karma because we lost on that shot in Winston-Salem last weekend.”
Those points were the final three of a game-high 26 for Williams, who came off the bench to lead the Mountain Lions (2-1) to a win over their Mercer County rivals Bluefield State (0-4).
The game was a fight throughout with BSC holding the lead early and Concord ahead by as many as 11 points in the second half.
After ties at two and four, BSC led by four at the first media timeout, but CU charged back and Mike Boyd’s second trey gave the Lions a nine point lead midway through the opening half.
The Big Blues answered. Remar Brothers came off the BSC bench and contributed on both ends of the floor as the Big Blues cut into the Concord lead. Shakir Dunning’s steal and layup with under two minutes to go in the half made it a six point game, but Concord pushed back and took a nine point lead into the intermission, 47-38.
Brothers had 10 first half points for State as did Geron Tate who also had two steals.
It was Boyd who carried Concord the first 20 minutes, scoring 12 points and passing out four assists. Williams, who scored 15 of his 26 points in the second half, had five rebounds while Terry Hopewell had three blocks for the Lions. State came out smoking to start the second half. Treon Claiborne’s layup four minutes in cut the lead to three, but the Lions would not back down, pushing their lead back as high as seven. As much as the Lions pushed, the Big Blues charged back. A Claiborne put-back with 6:15 to go made it a three point game and a Brothers trey brought BSC to within two with just over five minutes left. Tate’s two free throws with 4:24 to go made it a two point contest, 73-71 and Brothers’ driving shot in the lane tied the contest at 73. With 3:25 to go Brothers’ gave State the lead as he sank two free throws, but Boyd’s jumper just inside the top of the key reknotted the game at 75.
Brothers made one-of-two free throws with 1:50 to play to give BSC a one point lead and Dominique Cartier’s layup gave the Big Blues a three point lead.
Williams drained a three to tie the game at 78 with 28.0 showing on the clock, setting up Bluefield State for a chance to play for the final shot.
Tate’s shot in the lane was blocked with 4.4 to go and CU got the ball and called time with 2.8 on the clock. Nick Moyer threw the inbounds pass from the baseline to Williams who got the ball around midcourt, dribbled twice and fired in the game-winning shot. Concord players and students rushed the court as Bluefield State could not believe what had transpired before them.
In addition to his 26 points Williams had eight rebounds, two assists and a steal. Boyd added 19 points with five assists and two steals, while Ali Barnes came off the CU bench to score 11 points. Hopewell had six boards for the Mountain Lions.
Claiborne led BSC with 21 points and Tate added 18 as did Brothers. Sam Ouedraogo snagged 14 rebounds for the Big Blues, who out-rebounded the Mountain Lions 39-36 for the game.
A disappointed Jamaal Jackson, head coach of the Big Blues said his team has got to learn to close things out.
“For whatever reason, we get down and we get content knowing we can get back in the game,” Jackson observed. “We had no doubt we were going to get back in the game. They’re a group of fighters. That’s what we do. We just didn’t finish it out.”
McBride said, “We didn’t necessarily play the best game, it’s our third game of the season and we know we’re not going to be at our top form. I give Bluefield State a lot of credit. They’re a good basketball team. They are an attack first basketball team and they put a lot of pressure on us defensively and that fact, with a young team, we didn’t play great, but we found a way (to win) – it’s not about the margins, it’s that we found a way with the young guys and we did. I’m proud we found a way.
“People in Mercer County know this is a very big game for both of our schools and we’re glad to come away with a win.”
— Contact Bob Redd at