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Lady Rams Nearly Knock Off Cavaliers

Kiara Williams has been a part of a memorable turnaround at Bluefield College, going from three wins as a freshman, following it with 13, and then reaching a school record 23 last season.

February 20, 2011

Courtesy of Brian Woodson

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

 

BLUEFIELD, Va. — Kiara Williams has been a part of a memorable turnaround at Bluefield College, going from three wins as a freshman, following it with 13, and then reaching a school record 23 last season.

 

Jessica Brokaw has led the team as Interim Head Coach since Christmas will enter AAC Tournament action on Tuesday.

Even though the Lady Rams have regressed to 10 victories this year, Williams has enjoyed the ride.

 

"It's been amazing," Williams said. "To be a part of a team that went from three wins to being the winningest team at Bluefield College, it has definitely been a good experience."

 

Williams and fellows seniors Kiara Honore' and Katrina Morris fought valiantly to pull off a Senior Day upset at the Dome Gymnasium on Saturday, but Montreat won its 24th game by rallying for a 71-61 Appalachian Athletic Conference win over the Lady Rams.

 

Bluefield finished its regular season slate with a 10-18 record, a campaign that included the departure of head coach Steve Hardin prior to Christmas.

 

"It's been a tough year, but as a team we stayed calm and we have stayed together," Williams said. "That has been what has pulled us through it all."

 

Bluefield (10-18, 5-9) led Montreat (10-4, 24-4) 34-24 at the break, and 50-42 with 10:57 left in the game, but the Cavaliers outscored the Rams 29-11 to pull away for the win.

 

"Everything that worked for us in the first half kind of went dry for us in the second half," said Lady Rams' interim head coach Jessica Brokaw. "We shot pretty well and got a lot of offensive boards, but it didn't fall our way much in the second half."

 

Thanks to a fast start, six 3s in the opening half and a 12-3 advantage on the offensive glass, the Rams appeared determined to head into that game with some momentum. That lead continued to stand at eight with 11 minutes to go when the Cavaliers began to resemble the squad that improved to 24-4 on the season.

 

"I don't know what happened that second half, we were ahead by 12," Morris said. "We just lost it, we had a little drought there and they just played harder a little bit longer than we did."

 

Montreat's charge back was led by Chaecie Bullock, 5-foot-2 point guard Mykiea Russell and Ebony Battle. That trio scored 28 of the Cavs' 29 points over the final 11 minutes.

 

Bullock finished with 27 points — making all 10 of her free throw attempts — while Russell committed 11 turnovers, but contributed 16 points, six assists and five steals. Battle also scored 16, while pulling down 15 rebounds.

 

Bluefield still led 57-53 after a steal and basket in the backcourt by Honore', but the Cavaliers scored the next nine points, taking the lead for good at 58-57 on a free throw by Russell with 4:25 on the clock.

 

The Lady Rams stayed close with nine 3s on 34 attempts. The Rams made six in the opening half, but were just 3-19 from the beyond the arc after the break. Bluefield was outrebounded by six, despite holding a 20-14 advantage before the half, including pulled down 12 on the offensive end.

 

Bluefield also committed of 11 of their 19 turnovers in the second half.

 

"We don't ever really play the whole 40 minutes and I think if we just played 40 minutes the whole time we could beat anybody," Williams said. "When we don't play hard we stop attacking and playing defense and then it gets away from us."

 

Kia Gilliard paced Bluefield with 13 points, while Williams added 10, with both connecting on three 3s apiece. Honore' had two 3s and finished with 12 points. Tayieka Rouse and Jasmin Washington added nine points each.

 

Bluefield took 27 more shots (82-55) than the Cavaliers, but made just 28 percent (12-40) from the field, while Montreat was 24-55 (43.6), and made 21-31 from the free throw lone, while the Rams were 6-8.

 

Bluefield's bench outscored the Cavaliers 15-0.

 

Up next for the Rams is the Appalachian Athletic Conference Tournament, with a road date on Tuesday against either Union or Milligan.

 

"In the tournament all we can do is play our hardest and hopefully get us some wins," Honore' said.

 

Bluefield's three seniors combined for 24 points, a trio that will be missed by Brokaw or whoever the coach is next season for the Lady Rams.

 

"We started the game really well, we probably could have played a little harder in the second half, but I am happy that I got the privilege to take over and be part of this team, especially the seniors, they worked their butts off," Brokaw said. "I have just been glad to have this opportunity and I am going to miss these three seniors and I wish them luck in their future endeavors."

 

Brokaw, who still holds the interim tag, isn't sure if she will seek the full-time position or not.

 

"I haven't decided yet, I will probably apply, but I have been here seven years at Bluefield College and it has been a great opportunity...," said Brokaw, who is from Mansfield, Ohio. "I might start looking closer to home, but I haven't decided. I have talked to the girls about it and I am keeping them informed."

 

She wasn't the only one that has enjoyed her time at Bluefield. Honore' described her tenure with the Rams as "mind-blowing" and Morris admitted she had already "shed some tears" only moments after her final home game.

 

Williams, the only one of the three to be there four years, was especially proud of what the Lady Rams have accomplished in recent seasons.

 

"I didn't envision it," Williams said. "I knew we had the ability to do it, but I didn't think we were going to do it and do is so soon."

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