UC hangs on, nips Glenville
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's a good thing Charleston and coach Mark Downey are in no position to complain about a win.
Because if they were, they could critique Monday's 71-69 conquest over Glenville State ad nauseum.
That's because UC, which led by as many as 19 at one point, had to survive a missed 3-pointer at the buzzer to send a crowd of 489 at Eddie King Gym home happy on senior night.
Charleston (17-7 overall, 13-7 West Virginia Conference) is on the bubble in terms of a possible NCAA Division II tournament at-large bid if the Golden Eagles come up short in the conference tournament.
While the win against fledgling Glenville certainly didn't clinch anything for UC, a loss, especially in what would have been heartbreaking fashion, would've been crippling.
In spite of the perfectionist coach within, Downey will walk away with the victory.
"If I stewed over it, I'd drive myself nuts," Downey said. "We've got to go win on Thursday [at Wheeling Jesuit]. I was mad in [the locker room] and I let them have it for a couple of minutes, then I just stopped myself and said, 'All right, it's over, move on, let's go, right now. We won, we're still alive, let's do whatever we've got to do to win on Thursday.'"
Consider that a 23-3 run by the Golden Eagles had Charleston up 33-14 at one point midway through the first half on Monday.
Even after Glenville scratched and clawed its way back throughout the rest of the game, when Evan Faulkner pulled down a defensive rebound with around 10 seconds remaining and Charleston up five, for all intents and purposes, it seemed over.
But Glenville guard D.J. Blanks stripped Faulkner and quickly converted a layup, leading to a timeout by Pioneers coach Stephen Dye with nine seconds left.
Then UC point guard Terrell Lipkins did the unthinkable and received a technical following the play after throwing the ball at a Glenville player in retaliation for a shove.
The Pioneers' Jamel Morris cashed in twice and Faulkner managed just one of two on the other end after being fouled.
In the end, Glenville's Kevin Gray had a wide-open look at 3 from the corner as the buzzer sounded but after the ball hit all sides of the rim and backboard, it popped out.
"I thought we played really well for about 17 minutes in the first half and then just relaxed a little bit," Downey said. "Then we pushed it back out, they changed some defenses on us, and we just didn't go take it. And then we just did everything we could to give it away in the last minute.
"We just didn't finish the game like we were supposed to - we got lucky. This time of year you survive and you move on."
Missed 3-pointers were much of the story for Glenville as the Pioneers hit just 7-of-27 and consistently came up empty on potentially momentum-swinging treys.
The young Pioneers (11-14, 7-13) have lost eight of 10 games and are dealing with a roster with just one senior and 10 freshmen.
"We're a young team," Dye said. "The guys that win most of those games are teams that have seniors or guys that have been there three or four years.
"We're getting there, we're getting better. It's going to happen for us and maybe what we're going through now is setting us up for when the conference tournament comes and maybe those shots will fall. Maybe we'll make a run at this thing when most people don't think we can."
Aside from Lipkins' mental meltdown late, he kept UC afloat, going for 20 points and a game-best 11 rebounds from his point guard position.
Lipkins added four assists and committed six turnovers, but rest assured no one in Eddie King Gym was more relieved to see the final 3 roll out than he was.
"Oh, man," Lipkins said. "I thought it was good for a second. I was so happy when it rolled off. We shouldn't have left him open."
Aleksander Kesic and Robbie Dreher added 12 points apiece for UC. Lamont Cole matched Lipkins' 20 points for Glenville and Morris chipped in with 19 and Blanks 13.
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.