Rams No Treat for Montreat
Rob Wright has been at Bluefield College for less than two years, but it's safe to say the senior has enjoyed his time with the Ramblin' Rams.
February 20, 2011
Courtesy of Brian Woodson
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
BLUEFIELD, Va. — Rob Wright has been at Bluefield College for less than two years, but it's safe to say the senior has enjoyed his time with the Ramblin' Rams.
The lone senior the on the Rams basketball team will enter tournament action on Wednesday.
"I wish I could do it all over again, it was a great experience," said Wright, who transferred to Bluefield in January of '09 from Virginia Union. "Coach (Richard) Morgan and Coach (Keith) Jennings, I give them the best.
"They taught me to be a better basketball player and a better person. I am a better man now since I have been here, I appreciate everything."
Bluefield College appreciated Wright for his 25 points, including 18 in the second half, as the Rams finally wore down Montreat for a 92-83 Appalachian Athletic Conference win on Saturday at the Dome Gymnasium.
Wright and Byron Carpenter combined for 11 of Bluefield's points during a 17-1 run late in the second half to enable the Rams to pull away from the Cavaliers, whose game plan appeared to be run and run and run, and shoot a lot of 3s.
It may have backfired on them at the end.
"Coach Jennings had made a reference to that, 'Let's just keep pushing it and just try to get a lot of shots up', and I think we did that," Bluefield head coach Richard Morgan said.
Wright, who was honored before the game as the Rams' lone senior, admitted to nerves early despite making his first shot of the game — a 3-pointer — finished with 25, including making all 13 of his free throw attempts.
"I started off with the jitters, I jacked up a couple of shots, but as soon as I blocked out everything and got in my rhythm everything was flowing," said Wright, whose family was on hand. "I got a lot of easy points on the free throw line too."
In a first half that was played at a breakneck pace, the lead changed sides seven times, and there were four ties, including a 42-42 deadlock at the break.
Both teams let the ball fly from long range, with Montreat connecting on 14-27 for the game from 3-point range, while the Rams were 10-24.
The Cavaliers, who were led by 23 points — including six 3s — by Terrell Mosley, opened the second half with a 3 from Tyler Buff to take a lead they would hold until Bluefield's Melvin Henderson hit his only points of the game — a 3 with 7:46 left — to put the Rams on top for good.
Bluefield then began to put the ball inside, and the 6-foot-7 Carpenter proved to be a dominant force, finishing with 22 points and pulling down 13 boards.
"That is how he is most of the time when people just let him do his thing," Morgan said.
Even though Carpenter is a sophomore, the Virginia Beach product — who was "discovered" by Jennings — is in his first season at Bluefield.
"He is scaring the other team to death when they say freshman," Morgan said. "They're saying, 'Man, three more years of this.' He is really a special player too.
"We went and watched him at Virginia Western and I will tell you we fell in love with him then. I followed him last summer. I went down and watched him at an outdoor park at 93, 95 degrees and he was out there playing basketball. He is going to be special."
While the Rams were scoring points, the Cavaliers started turning the ball over, finishing with 25 turnovres in the game, including 10 in the final 7:26. Wright, who also had four assists and three steals, gave much of the credit to Carpenter.
"Our big man, he's a beast down there," Wright said. "I knew if he would just keep pushing, he was going to wear them down."
Brian Daniels added 17 points, including three 3s for the Rams, while Borgia M'Bala came off the bench to can 14, matching Daniels with a trio of 3s.
Montreat also received 18 points and nine rebounds from Matt Rushing, Buff scored 12 and Cameron Hayes added 11, including nine on a trio of 3s, and also dished out five assists. Montreat (8-20, 3-11) out-shot Bluefield 52.6 percent (30-57) to 39.7 (29-73), but the Rams were 24-32 from the charity stripe, compared to 9-17 for the Cavaliers.
Up next for Bluefield is an Appalachian Athletic Conference Tournament quarterfinal on Wednesday at Union. The winner of the eight-team AAC tourney earns an automatic bid to the NAIA Nationals.
"We've still got a long road to hoe," Morgan said. "We know we have got to put together three games here to go to Branson, Mo."
Don't feel sorry for the Rams, who will have to travel in the postseason. Morgan remembers that Bluefield played at home in the postseason last season and lost to Virginia-Wise in the AAC semifinals.
"That is fine, we were at home the whole time last year and lost," Morgan said. "We play better on the road now, but it is tough to beat a ball club three times and that is what we would have to do with Union.
"We've got to get past them first, once we get past them we can look at the next one, whomever that is."
Morgan is in no hurry for the season to end. The next loss and Wright's career will be over, a talented senior who basically fell into his lap.
"It's been an unbelievable ride for him, " Morgan said. "A guy that was given to me by the admissions people, they didn't know if he could play, but they said he has already been admitted and you've got a good guy.
"They told him to come down here and when I saw him go up and down I couldn't believe how good he was for a guy that I didn't get to go recruit, but I will take another Rob any day."
With just one senior on a roster of 18, and others not listed on the roster, Morgan is excited about the future.
"We're on the right path," Morgan said. "We have got to find a guy to step up and take Rob's place, but I bet we have that somewhere on our bench."
The future can wait. Wright wants to keep playing and the time has come when surprises abound.
"In March Madness anything can happen," Wright said. "I feel real good, if we keep playing the defense we have been playing, and if I show up like I have been showing up, we've got a chance."