BLUEFIELD, Va. — Call it a terrific start to the season for the Bluefield College men’s basketball team.
“I feel like it went good, it went smooth,” Bluefield junior point guard Shawn Robinson said. “It was a good game and we played together.”
Especially in the second half.
“We just talked in the locker room and just came out hard,” Robinson said. “We was talking about defense, defense wins games and that is how we have got to start.”
Jorge Concepcion scored 17 of his 21 points after the break, and the Rams held Ohio Christian without a field goal for the first 8:43 of the second half, as Bluefield College broke open a two-point halftime deficit to run past the Trailblazers 92-64 in the season opener on Wednesday night at the Dome Gymnasium.
“I think it was a great situation where our guys came out and understood what they had to do,” Bluefield head coach Richard Morgan said. “They came out and did it. The next thing you know we played very good defense. We held them to eight points for a while and our guys fed off that. I told them every day in practice keep playing, keep playing, play through fouls and you saw tonight that is what they did. They just played hard and just went out and really showed what they could do.”
Four Rams finished in double figures, including TyQuan Reid with 12 points, and 11 apiece for Gage Yesbeck and David Tripp, all of whom came off the bench. Bluefield forced 30 Ohio Christian turnovers and finished with 10 steals, while outrebounding the shorthanded Trailblazers 36-28.
Ohio Christian, which led 37-35 at the break, didn’t connect for a second half field goal until Jalen Hearn scored with 11:17 on the clock. By then the Rams were up by 20 points. The visitors from Circleville, Ohio (1-1) were led by Hearn with 18 points and Kaleb Vaughn, who had 17 points, including four 3s for the Trailblazers.
“They don’t have their best player so we can take if for what it’s worth,” Morgan said. “He has got a guy coming second semester that is going to be good. Take nothing away from our guys, they played hard and that is what we should do every night. When we play like that that is Bluefield College basketball.”
Bluefield connected on nine of its first 12 second half field goal attempts, led by Concepcion, who had 13 points, including a trio of 3s, during that stretch. The Rams also pressured the Trailblazers on both sides of the floor while also attacking the glass on missed shots. Niquan Cousins led the Rams off the bench with eight rebounds and also had a follow-up dunk that brought a cheer from the sizable crowd. Tripp also added five boards and three blocked shots to his 11 points.
“No. 1 (Cousins), this is his first day. He has been around practice, he has been running most of the time so I knew he wasn’t going to have a problem with staying in shape, but Niquan Cousins is a special kid, he gets the extra rebounds and then you bring in David Tripp and they do the same thing,” said Morgan, who credited assistant coach Ryan Moody with bringing in a solid recruiting class. “I have got two bookends and that is what I wanted. Coach Moody did a great job of going out and getting these guys. I am just able to coach now and let him sit over there and lead and guide me.”
The 5-foot-5 Robinson, who had played the previous two seasons at Caldwell Community College in North Carolina, directed the Rams attack at point guard, collecting nine points and four assists. Jeremiah Jenkins complemented him off the bench with eight points and three assists.
“I feel pretty comfortable out there,” Robinson said. “We are going to be pretty explosive. I have got a whole team, I don’t have to do everything.”
Definitely not. Bluefield filled the stat sheet, with Reed adding four assists and three steals to his 12 points. Stanthony Nelms, one of two seniors along with Yesbeck, tallied eight points, four boards and three assists. Dawan Perry added seven points for Bluefield, which will return to action on Nov. 10 against Lincoln, Pa.
“You just go back and just tell them, ‘Hey, you haven’t done anything, just one game and let’s just go now and see what we can do,’” Morgan said. “I think they had to see it. Telling them doesn’t help, I think they had to see it and once they saw it tonight I think they understand now all they have to do is hold on tight and put that seat belt on and we are going to go.”
“We got the (first game) jitters out and now we are good,” added Robinson. “We will be ready.”
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at Dome Gymnasium
OHIO CHRISTIAN (1-1)
Jalen Hearn 5-14 7-7 18, Kaleb Vaughn 5-8 3-4 17, Dylan Geig 2-9 0-0 5, John Johnson 1-1 0-0 3, Rael Windley 3-11 0-0 7, Troy Mundy 3-8 0-0 8, Cory Inman 0-1 0-0 0, Yakub Dosunmu 0-1 2-4 2, Tyrek Vicks 0-0 0-0 0, Thomas Woods 0-1 2-2 2. Michael Hennen 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 20-56 14-17 64.
Stanthony Nelms 3-7 1-2 8, Kevin Schmitt 0-0 1-1 1, Jorge Concepcion III 9-17 0-3 21, Shawn Robinson 3-13 2-2 9, Olatunji Ebifemi 0-1 0-0 0, Niquan Cousins 1-2 2-2 4, Jeremiah Jenkins 2-3 2-2 8, TyQuan Reid 3-9 4-5 12, Dawan Perry 2-3 2-2 7, David Tripp 4-5 3-4 11, Damon Childress 0-2 0-0 0, Gage Yesbeck 4-5 1-2 11. Totals 31-67 20-24 92.
Halftime: OC 37-35. 3-point goals: OC 10-28 (Vaughn 4-7, Mundy 2-3, Hearn 1-5, Geig 1-5, Windley 1-5, Johnson 1-1, Inman 0-1, Woods 0-1); BC 10-31 (Concepcion 3-9, Jenkins 2-3, Reid 2-6, Robinson 1-7, Perry 1-1, Yesbeck 1-1, Nelms 0-1, Ebifemi 0-1, Cousins 0-1, Childress 0-1). Rebounds: OC 28 (Geig 7); BC 36 (Cousins 8). Assists: OC 13 (Hearn 3, Geig 3, Mundy 3); BC 19 (Robinson 4, Reid 4). Total fouls: OC 18; BC 13. Fouled out: none. Technicals: none. Att: 150.