Tech's early lead doesn’t hold
MONTGOMERY, W.Va. - WVU Tech had a fight on its hands Tuesday, and when the Golden Bears could not land a knockout blow it left room for visiting Bluefield (Va.) College to win on the scorecards and sneak out of the Neal Baisi Athletic Center with a 102-92 win.
Tech (7-3) controlled the game in the early stages, leading by as many as eight points before Bluefield (4-1) stormed back to take a 21-20 lead. The Rams led by as many as 12 in the first half and entered halftime with a 52-46 lead.
The Golden Bears battled back into the game to catch Bluefield and take a 57-56 lead, but the teams traded the lead on four consecutive possessions before the Rams took it back for good at 65-64.
Tech trailed 94-84 with less than four minutes to play and was able to cut its deficit to just three points at 95-92 on a Terrale Clark 3-pointer with less than a minute to play. That was as close as the Golden Bears would get as Bluefield tallied late foul shots to put the game away.
Forward Byron Carpenter, an NAIA All-American last season, led the Rams with 28 points and grabbed seven rebounds as Bluefield beat on the Golden Bears in the paint all night.
"The game plan for tonight was to get the ball to Byron," Bluefield guard Kearsten Marion said. "He wants to go inside-out and we did a good job of attacking."
Carpenter was not the only Bluefield player to enjoy a big night as three other players - Deante Hallums (23), Andrew Wilson (19) and Marion (19) - hit double-figures in scoring. Hallums also had a strong game on the boards with 14 rebounds.
WVU Tech coach Bob Williams said his team lacked intensity, especially on the defensive end, coming off a win at highly regarded Fairmont State last Friday.
"We know they're going to go at us and we tried to limit [Carpenter's] touches, but we've got a three-man guarding him in Terrale Clark and he couldn't guard him in the first half," Williams said. "We couldn't guard them in general. We pride ourselves on the defensive end. We give up points because we're a high-scoring team but we were holding people to 40 percent [shooting] on the year and we held Fairmont to 40 percent on Friday night and we allow these guys to shoot 60 percent in our gym. We knew they were going to be hard to guard but I was really disappointed in our defense."
Clark led the Golden Bears with 31 points and 14 rebounds, with teammate David Rawlinson scoring 28 points to go with nine assists. Rawlinson entered the game averaging 26.2 points and ranked as the fifth leading scorer in NAIA.
"We knew Rawlinson was the motor," Marion said. "We knew if we stopped him and slowed him down we could probably slow them down and have a good chance of winning. We didn't shut him down but we contained him."
Former South Charleston High standout Jarin Marino finished with 13 points and two steals for Tech with Floyd Campbell adding 10 points. Taking away the four Golden Bears to score in double-figures, the rest of the team managed just 10 points.
When asked if he thought Tech let its guard down after the win in Fairmont last week, Williams did not rule out the possibility.
"Must have been. I thought our guys would be ready," he said. "We questioned our guys whether they were ready to play or not. I don't know how you can be a college basketball player and not be mentally ready to play. It seems like every time our students are gone we play down to the intensity of the gym."
Tech plays again this weekend in the Bluefield State Classic, where its opponents will be Chowan University at 4 p.m Friday and Lander University at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Reach Tom Bragg at email@example.com.