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Defense Rules as Bryan Beats Bluefield

There is one sure way to break a good defense.

January 23, 2011

Courtesy of Brian Woodson

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

 

BLUEFIELD, Va. — There is one sure way to break a good defense.

 

Rob Wright, the lone senior on the team, scored nine points in the loss against Bryan College.

Bluefield College didn't make enough shots on Saturday afternoon, dropping a 67-54 Appalachian Athletic Conference decision to Bryan College at The Dome Gymnasium.

 

The Rams made just 33.9 (19-56) percent from the field, while the senior-dominated Lions were an even 50 percent, making 22-of-44.

 

"We don't take good shots, we are not very smart," Bluefield head coach Richard Morgan said. "They've got a senior-oriented team, and we've got puppies. It is not a very good effort by the Rams today."

 

Bryan is a senior-dominated squad that improved to 5-1 in the AAC and, at 14-6, is the only conference men's team with an overall record above .500. The Lions are tied with Milligan for first place in the league.

 

"We want to win our league. We understand it is going to be tough all the way through, but we are also trying to get to the national tournament," said Bryan head coach Don Rekoske, whose Lions haven't gotten to the NAIA nationals during his seven-year tenure in Dayton, Tenn. "We've got two primary goals.

 

"If you do well enough in the regular season you can get an at-large bid so that is our hope. It is going to be tough, but we will see what happens."

 

Bluefield (8-12, 3-3) led 2-0, but that was basically the highlight for the Rams, which made just 6-of-25 (24.0 percent) shot attempts in the opening half against a furious Bryan defense, while the Lions were 11-24, building a 28-16 lead at the break.

 

"You've got to make shots, we didn't do that," Morgan said. "You can't shoot 33 percent and think you are going to beat the best team when you let them shoot 50 percent.

 

"We had 11 turnovers so we were good on turnovers, and they had 17. We will meet them again and we will be ready for them."

 

Bryan was led by Scott Newton, who paced the Lions with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Morgan calls him the "best player in the league" comparing him to Omar "Juice" Reed, who completed his career at Bluefield last season.

 

"They've got the best player in the league, no doubt," Morgan said. "Newton is big time, he can go inside, outside. He reminds you a lot of 'Juice', he is their 'Juice'."

 

Not surprisingly, Rekoske agreed with Morgan.

 

"He is the best player in the league, statisically speaking only tells part of the story," Rekoske said. "He is like a point-center, he can handle the ball against the press, he is a great passer, he is a special player, I don't know how we replace him next year. He is irreplaceable..."

 

Dominique Clements tossed in 17 points and Xavierian McCall added 16, while Astral Guerrier pulled down 14 rebounds. Still, the story was Bryan's defense, which entered the game allowing 63 points a game, and surrendered just 54 to the Rams, 19 fewer than Bluefield's season average.

 

"The last three years this group of kids has been in the top five nationally in man-to-man defense," Rekoske said. "We don't do anything special, we just do a half-court man, we play man-defense, and field goal percentage defense. That is a real tribute to the kids and how hard they play."

 

While Bluefield struggled — with only Jewuan Wynn reaching double figures with 14 points — Bryan shot 55 percent in the second half and 50 percent for the game. The Lions also outrebounded the Rams 39-25.

 

"We try to win methodical, one possession at a time," Rekoske said. "We try to be efficient on the offense, and play great defense on the defensive end. We will probably be in a lot of games playing that way."

 

That's become habit for the Lions, whose only loss since Dec. 17 was a one-point decision to AAC co-leader Milligan.

 

"We've got a lot of experience and our guys are really starting to play well," Rekoske said. "We have won eight of our last nine, and we're just playing together and it's been fun."

 

Bluefield remains in fourth place in the AAC, two games behind Bryan and Milligan. Morgan isn't overly-optimistic about catching either, but the Rams and Lions were two of the four teams to finish in a tie for first season, and all those clubs had five league defeats.

 

"It's tough to win with three losses, but we'll see," said Morgan, whose Rams received nine points from Rob Wright and eight by Borgia M'bala. "Last year it was five losses, maybe we're still there. We've got to go to Montreat now and try to get one Wednesday and see where the chips fall."

 

The Rams will travel to Montreat on Wednesday, followed by a visit to Reinhardt in Georgia on Saturday.

 

Morgan knows the Rams must play better to still have a shot at contending for the AAC title.

 

"You've got to know that you have got to perform better," said Morgan whose Rams are down to nine games remaining on the season. "You know you're playing the best guy (Newton) and you've got to have that and we didn't do it today. We didn't get it done."

 

Melvin Henderson led Bluefield with three steals and three assists. M'bala also added three steals. Wright pulled down a team-high five rebounds.

 

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