Dwaine Osborne isn’t sure the last time the University of Charleston beat nationally ranked teams in back to back games, but he’s happy it happened.
The Golden Eagles shot a blistering 64% from the floor in Wednesday evening’s 85-70 Mountain East Conference men’s victory at Fairmont State, which came into the game as the No. 21 team in the NCAA Division II poll.
In its previous game on Saturday, UC posted a 78-74 home win against West Liberty, which at the time was ranked ninth in the country. The Golden Eagles (7-2) have now stretched their winning streak to seven games after an 0-2 start.
“I was thinking about that on the way back on the bus,’’ Osborne said of Wednesday’s victory in Fairmont. “To beat two nationally ranked teams in a row in the regular season ... is pretty significant. I’m not sure when the last time would have been because a lot of teams don’t have a chance to do that — the chance to play two nationally ranked teams in consecutive games.’’
Osborne, though, does know how the Golden Eagles pulled it off Wednesday, and that’s with excellent shooting. Eight UC players took shots against the Falcons, and only one of them hit less than 50%. UC wound up 28 of 44 from the floor overall, was 12 of 21 on 3-pointers and sank 17 of 22 free throws.
Eddie Colbert III led the way with 23 points and seven rebounds and was followed in scoring by Keith Williams (14 points), Seth O’Neal (12) and Lamont McManus (10), who had eight rebounds. Seth O’Neal handed out eight assists.
“I think we were playing with some confidence,’’ Osborne said, “and that obviously helps a lot. I felt like we got really good shots and shared the ball well. When we do that, it puts us in some situations where we get some good, clean looks at it. Fortunately, we were able to knock them down.’’
Fairmont (4-2) came into the game leading the MEC’s North Division, but dropped to second behind West Liberty (6-3). Charleston is now in a virtual tie for the South Division lead with Glenville State (6-1), which has played two fewer games.
The Golden Eagles are off Saturday, but have a rescheduled game at Wheeling on Monday, with a 7:30 p.m. tipoff. That’s their last game before next Wednesday’s 7:30 showdown at the Wehrle Innovation Center against Kanawha County rival West Virginia State (6-2), which is also vying for the top spot in the South Division.
West Virginia State saw its six-game win streak snapped Wednesday when it fell 77-71 at Frostburg State, as Jihar Williams scored 20 points, including a 3-pointer that gave the Bobcats the lead for good with 2:45 remaining in the game.
The Bobcats (3-5) led in the first half by as much as 25 points, but West Virginia State rallied to take the lead in the second half before Frostburg retaliated in the closing minutes. Jaylon Johnson had two layups in the final 2:25 to help Frostburg stay in front.
The Yellow Jackets shot just 41%, made 7 of 27 from 3-point range and turned the ball over 17 times. Five State players reached double figures in scoring — Anthony Pittman (17), Glen Abram (15), Jeremiah Moore (14), Treohn Watkins (13) and Augustus Stone (12). Pittman also grabbed 16 rebounds and Moore 12 to finish with double-doubles for the Jackets.