January opens crucial games for local college basketball programs |

BLUEFIELD — At area universities, a new semester is starting, and so are crucial stretches of January basketball games for each local institution.

Concord (9-4, 6-3 Mountain East) looks for his third straight win this afternoon in Athens against the Senators of Davis & Elkins College (9-6, 3-6 MEC). Game time is set for 4 pm

In last year’s game with the Senators in Athens, Amare Smith of CU scored 28 points and pulled down 11 rebounds as the Mountain Lions took an 88-78 win. Concord shot 47.2% from the field in that victory. Guard Ethan Heller has averaged 15 points per game against D&E.

Daniel Rahama leads the Mountain East Conference with 9.5 rebounds per game this season, helping Concord to a plus-7.7 rebounding margin that is 19th best in NCAA Division II.

Blocked shots could be an important stat on Saturday. Clarens Pierre of Davis & Elkins averages 1.7 blocks per game, second best in the Mountain East. Concord’s Jevon Laidler and JJ Harper are also in the top 10 in blocks, each averaging 1.2 swats per game.

The Mountain Lions came back from a halftime deficit on Wednesday to beat West Virginia Wesleyan 78-64, boosted by a rebounding margin of 45 to 27. The win lifted CU into a tie for fourth place in the Mountain East standings.

For the first time this season, Concord won when scoring fewer than 80 points. The Athenians’ performance beyond the 3-point arc – going 10 for 24 – was a key to the win in Buckhannon.

For the third straight outing, five or more Concord players reached double-figure scoring, which Coach Todd May said is a sure sign that the team is mentally “connected” and not selfish about scoring the ball.

“Nobody (on the roster) cares about who gets the credit. It’s about one thing: winning,” May said on the team’s Twitter feed. “They just play for each other.”

The Bluefield University Rams (8-10, 7-7 Appalachian Athletic Conference) will be in Kentucky on Saturday night, looking to obtain their third straight win. The opponent will be Union College (15-1, 13-0), which climbed up to ninth this week in the national NAIA men’s basketball coaches’ poll.

Bluefield University honored head coach Richard Morgan earlier this week at the Dome for two major accomplishments. He acquired his 200th college coaching win in December, and on Jan. 7, he became BU’s all-time winning basketball coach with victory No. 202

That eclipsed the win total of Mark Blevins, Rams head coach in the 1980s and 1990s.

The Big Blue of Bluefield State (6-10) are on a long break from competition. The next game pits BSU against Bluefield College on Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Ned Shott Gymnasium. The date has also been designated “alumni day” at Bluefield State.

The Blues’ last outing was a 145-106 home win over Johnson & Wales University. Malik Lacewell tossed in 25 points in 17 minutes of action to lead BSU in scoring. Malik Tidwell racked up 20 points, five rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes.

It was the third time this season that Bluefield State scored more than 100 points, and the highest single-game point total for the Blues since at least 2016.

• • •

In women’s basketball, Bluefield University (7-10, 7-7 AAC) is playing at Union College in Kentucky on Saturday. Union (3-14, 3-10) has lost nine of its last 10 outings.

The Lady Rams snapped a four-game losing streak on Wednesday at home, beating Kentucky Christian 87-72. Kylie Meadows led the way for BU, generating 17 points and 14 rebounds and blocking three shots. Three other Rams scored 13 or more points.

The women’s squad from Bluefield State (7-9) hosts West Liberty University (8-6) at 5 pm Monday at the Shott High School. The Blues will try to break a four-game losing streak.

Rori Cox and Londen Coleman scored 15 and 14 points respectively in the women’s last effort, a 69-58 loss to UVa-Wise at Bluefield on Jan. 7.

Coleman and Cox are BSU’s leading scorers this season, while Dani Janutolo has grabbed 101 rebounds for an average of 6.3 per game. She also has five blocked shots and a team-high 45 steals.

Concord’s women (4-9, 2-7) open up Saturday’s doubleheader in Athens against Davis & Elkins (3-10, 3-6) at 2 pm Both teams have lost three straight games going into the weekend’s action.

The Mountain Lions will play a makeup game at home at 2 pm Monday, taking on UVa-Wise in the Carter Center. The head coach of the Highland Cavaliers is Jamie Cluesman, a four-year letter winner and all-conference performer at point guard while a student at Concord.

• • •

On the major-college level, Saturday’s conference matchups in men’s basketball include the West Virginia Mountaineers (10-6, 0-4 Big 12) at Oklahoma (10-6, 1-3), tipping off at noon; and Marshall (14-4, 3-2 Sun Belt) hosting Old Dominion (10-7, 2-3) at 7 pm in Huntington.

Virginia Tech visits Charlottesville on Wednesday to renew its rivalry with the University of Virginia.

In women’s games, Marshall (9-7, 2-3 Sun Belt) plays at Old Dominion (11-7, 3-2) at 4 pm Saturday. West Virginia (11-4, 2-2 Big 12) hosts Baylor (12-4, 3-1) at 3 pm Sunday. Virginia Tech (14-3, 4-3 ACC), ranked 13th in the AP women’s poll, plays at Pitt (7-9, 0-5) at 6 pm Thursday.

Leave a Comment