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Rams Find A Way Past the Big Blues

Most coaches say it's not how you start, but how you finish.

January 4, 2011

 

Courtesy of Bluefield Daily Telegraph

Jon Greene

 

BLUEFIELD, Va. — Most coaches say it's not how you start, but how you finish.

Senior Rob Wright helped lead the Rams past local rival Bluefield State College.

 

For Bluefield College, it started and ended well as the Rams defeated rival Bluefield State 74-71 on Monday night at the Dome Gymnasium.

 

"I thought our guys competed tonight," Bluefield College head coach Richard Morgan said. "They played hard and knew what was at stake. It's a rivalry. We try to compete every night. I thought they did that. We were kind of shaky in the second half. We found a way to put it back together and found a way to win."

 

The Rams took an early 7-0 lead, but the Big Blues fought to stay close with the pressure defense.

 

Bryan Tingle hit a jumper to cut Bluefield's lead to three at 16-13, but the Rams went on a 13-4 run capped off by a Borgia M'bala three-pointer with six minutes remaining.

 

The lead remained at double digits with the Rams leading by as many as 15 before Bluefield State started to find their rhythm.

 

The Blues had three steals in a span of a minute lead to easy baskets as Bluefield State made it close at half 41-31.

 

"We picked it up a bit at the end of the first half," Bluefield State head coach Jimmy Voight said. "Our press worked. We got some steals and easy baskets."

 

The Blues started the second half with a bang trimming the margin to 41-39 with nearly 18 minutes remaining.

 

Bluefield was able to fight of the pressure and rebuild the lead to seven at 51-44 thanks to two free throws by Rob Wright.

 

"Just by moving the ball," Morgan said of how to hand the Blues' pressure. "So many people want to dribble, but you don't want to dribble it. You want to pass it. You move faster with the pass. Then, on the other end you have to attack it."

 

The Rams did just that with the deep ball making nine three-pointers.

 

"We try to watch how many we take," Morgan said. "Right now, if they're feeling it and they're going. We have to try it. That's the way we can win. We have some guys who can play in the post, but we have to go with our strength right now."

 

Still, Bluefield State would not go away quietly.

 

After tying it on a Jerome Johnson put back at 56, the Blues took their first lead of the game with 7:10 remaining on a Omar London three-pointer at 59-58.

 

From there, the lead would change eight times with no lead greater than four.

 

Bluefield tied the game at 71 on a drive by Wright, then took the lead 72-71 with 27 seconds on a free throw by Byron Carpenter.

 

Bluefield State called at time out, but Bryan Tingle dribbled the ball off his foot and out of bounds on the ensuing position to turn the ball over to the Rams.

 

"It's just frustrating," Voight said. "We came out on the wrong end again. We got some new kids who played tonight and have more depth. You have to give Coach Morgan and Bluefield credit.

 

"We just have to learn how to win. Bluefield State hasn't had success in years. It's frustrating. We're just not getting it done right now."

 

Melvin Henderson connected on two free throws and Johnson's last second three point attempt from the corner missed as time expired.

 

"I told them to just remain calm," Morgan said of the last few minutes. "We have to just keep pushing and keep plugging. We've been in games like this before, so that prepared us."

 

Wright led all-scores with 26 points in the win. Carpenter added 10 points and seven boards.

 

Lang scored 19 points for the Blues. Tingle added 16 off the bench. Omar London — who along with Tingle and Maurice Jordan played for the first time — finished with 11.

 

Bluefield State (1-8) returns to conference play next with a trip to Seton Hill on Wednesday. The Rams (5-9) host Reinhardt on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

 

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