WVU Tech's Terrale Clark glides to the basket against Bluefield State.
MONTGOMERY - As WVU Tech watched a 20-4 lead over Bluefield State slide into a one-point halftime deficit, David Rawlinson almost was conspicuous by his absence, or at least dormant.But the 6-foot senior guard from Las Vegas awoke from that first-half slumber Monday night at the Baisi Center, erupting for 25 second-half points in a 104-96 win over the Big Blues.If you knew about his triple-double in the Golden Bears' previous game, his second half wasn't surprising. Even so, it was impressive, almost startling, to see him carry his team to another double-digit lead, one that didn't evaporate.Five games into the Golden Bears' season, he is averaging 23.6 points and is becoming the go-to performer coach Bob Williams needs on his young squad. Rawlinson is one of just two seniors on the roster, with Terrale Clark the other.Williams lured Rawlinson from San Bernardino Valley College in Southern California, and he averaged 11 points last season as a part-time starter and reliable regular. This season, much more will be asked from him. "We sniff around out there, the jucos a little bit," Williams said of his cross-country catch. "We've had some over the years. We were fortunate to get him - he's a great kid, his mom's a federal judge, he comes from a great family. High-character person. He's got a chance to have a special season."He had a few special stretches in the second half, for certain.Bluefield State, a West Virginia Conference member counting the game as an exhibition, wiped out the early deficit and led 38-37 at the half, and even built it to 43-39. The Blues kept hanging around, tying the game at 57 after Johnny Uhegwu traded 3-pointers with Tech's Brandon Burgraff.Rawlinson responded by driving the lane and flipping the ball off the glass, giving Tech (4-1) a 59-57 lead. The Bears never trailed again, but there was more entertainment over the final 12 minutes.In one sequence straddling the 6-minute mark, Rawlinson scored seven points in 39 seconds, turning a jumper at the foul line into a three-point play, turning his own steal into another basket and then going up and under for a big-time basket, drawing another foul.
When he hit that free throw, the Bears led 80-69 with 5:56 left. Bluefield cut the lead to four several times, but never had a look at cutting it closer.In the Bears' previous game, a 93-85 win over Virginia-Wise, Rawlinson had his biggest numbers, racking up 25 points, 16 assists and 12 rebounds."He's just hard to handle. When you try to go out and pressure him like that, that's probably not a good idea," Williams said.Burgraff, a 6-1 junior from Matewan, is stepping up as the Bears' top bomber, hitting five 3-pointers among his 23 points. That comes after his 24 points and six 3-pointers against Virginia-Wise.Kornilous Donnell, a 6-5 junior from Lakeland, Fla., added 18 points and Clark 12. Jaren Marino, a 6-1 sophomore from South Charleston, added eight.
Tech is missing 6-6 junior forward Armond Perez and 6-6 junior forward Jauries Thomas, both sitting out until they get cleared by the NAIA, which might not happen until the end of the fall semester. Williams said he may be able to add a guard from Chicago between semesters.The Bears could use the reinforcements, particularly of the 6-6 variety. "We've got a young team, and it's early in the season, and we're playing undersized," Williams said. "We're playing with four guards. We've definitely got to get bigger."Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.