SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The sights, smells and sounds were familiar to WVU Tech's Eddie Gordon at the South Charleston Community Center, but the results weren't.The Golden Bears could never gain any momentum in the second half Saturday night and were sent to their eighth straight defeat in an 88-83 decision to Bluefield (Va.) College in front of about 400.Tech played at the SCCC because Gordon, freshman point guard Ra'Shaud Kincaid, junior guard Jaren Marino, sophomore Joe Saunders and freshman swingman Hunter Moles were former standouts at South Charleston High School.The Black Eagles have made it a yearly habit of living in the high school state rankings and advancing to the state tournament. Tech's struggles are all new to the quintet from SC.
"It felt real good,'' said Gordon of playing at the SCCC where the Black Eagles' home games are held. "It actually feels like home. When I'm here in the summer this is where I come and played most of my [high school] career here."The last time we played [Bluefield College] we lost by 35. We gave good effort. We made a couple of mental mistakes. As a team we have a lot of people coming back from injuries that didn't play first semester. We're going to be stronger. We're moving in the right direction.''Tech only trailed by two points (39-37) at halftime, but allowed Bluefield College (7-3), which shot 50 percent in the opening half, to continue making shots at a torrid pace (49.2 percent for the game).Andrew Wilson knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Rams a 67-52 advantage with 9:01 left in the second half and the Golden Bears (8-9) could never regain their bearings.The Golden Bears sliced their deficit to under 10 points on a couple of occasions in the final five minutes, but it was too little, too late."The last few weeks we've been getting blown out,'' said Tech coach Bob Williams. "It's encouraging that we were competing."Tech junior forward Jauries Thomas led all scorers with 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting with eight rebounds. Golden Bears junior guard Leon Cooper Jr. added 15 points, senior forward Stephen Coles chipped in 12 points and seven boards, Marino totaled 11 points and seven caroms and Gordon had 11 points behind 7 of 8 from the foul line.Williams is encouraged with the remaining schedule featuring seven home games out of Tech's last 14 games and several players recovering from nagging injuries.Cooper sat out the last month with a shoulder injury and Gordon missed the last three weeks with a fracture in his ankle and a strained Achilles tendon. Coles suited up for the first time Saturday against Bluefield College. Tech was also missing starting senior forward Armond Perez, who was suspended."We've just had so many different lineups and so many injuries,'' Williams said. "It's really been a difficult season up to this point. We're staying optimistic. We have really good kids. They're high-character people. They want to do well. They're coachable.''Kearston Marion and Andrew Wilson netted 19 points apiece to pace five players in double figures for Bluefield College.
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4811.