UC rolls past Bluefield State
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- With his team headed toward a no-doubt 92-63 win Thursday night over Bluefield State, University of Charleston coach Mark Downey was thinking ahead to the final week of the regular season.
His mind was not wandering - he's just trying to get his troops positioned for three games in six days, followed by the West Virginia Conference tournament. The Golden Eagles (16-7 overall, 12-7 WVC), currently in fifth place, need a strong finish to improve their postseason picture.
The Eagles get Saturday off, then play their final home game Monday against Glenville State, travel to fourth-place Wheeling Jesuit next Thursday and finish at West Virginia State on Feb. 23.
"I thought it was OK," Downey said of his team's effort Thursday. "We did what we had to do, pushed it out a little bit and some guys played well. We need to bring some guys along."
Evan Faulkner led the Eagles with 24 points, though Downey wished he didn't have to play him 35 minutes. Tino diTrapano could have gotten 10-12 minutes in relief of Faulkner, but he turned an ankle and is out a week.
Terrell Lipkins looked to be in pretty good shape, scoring 20 points with four assists and four steals. Robbie Dreher scored 16 and Quincy Washington had 16 points and eight rebounds.
Downey tried to get 6-foot-8 Aleksander Kesic back in the swing, but all he did was commit four fouls - in five minutes. Marwan Sarhan, a 6-5 Egyptian, made a strong push with eight points and seven rebounds in 14 minutes.
Two others, Xavier Humphrey and Hayden Arnett, have been limited recently. Humphrey, battling tendinitis in a knee, played 10 minutes and managed a 3-pointer that bounced high above the backboard before falling through the net.
Arnett, who recorded no stats in eight minutes, is battling plantar fasciitis, the painful foot condition.
UC took the 14th-place Big Blues (3-20, 3-16) to school in the first half, shooting 65.4 percent to take a 51-32 lead. And that margin was smaller than it might have been, thanks to Ryan Braxton's long banked 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The Blues even scored the first five points of the second half to cut the UC lead to 14, but the Eagles rebuffed the rally with a Dreher 3-pointer and a Washington dunk off a Lipkins steal. Later in the half, the Eagles scored 13 straight to take an 89-56 lead.
UC scored 29 points off 19 turnovers and held Bluefield to 34 percent shooting, but Downey was looking for a sharper finish in the final 20 minutes.
"We need to do better. We're trying to play five-minute quarters each half, win five minutes at a time," Downey said. "That's kind of our goal."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsmock@ wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.