Eagles end 3-game malaise
After a promising start, the University of Charleston's season had hit the skids and needed the kind of reinvigoration that Monday night's game ultimately afforded.
Among other things, the Golden Eagles responded by delivering some dive-on-the-floor intensity, topped off by a couple of nice scoring binges that led to a 77-70 victory over Glenville State Monday night at Eddie King Gym. On a night ideally suited to staying home, a crowd of about 200 attended.
Most important, UC (6-4, 3-3 Mountain East) snapped a three-game losing streak that had dulled the luster of its 5-1 start to the season, during which the Golden Eagles had knocked off Fairmont State and Wheeling Jesuit. Looking at the standings, those could be called upsets.
UC's effort in defeating the Pioneers, said first-year coach Dwaine Osborne, was reminiscent of those first six games.
"Tonight it was back to what we were doing when we were 5-1,'' said Osborne. "When we played hard this year, we're 6-1. And when we haven't, we're 0-3. We started the year 5-1, and I didn't feel like in any of those games - even the one we lost to West Liberty - that a lack of effort was the issue.''
The three straight losses to Shepherd, Shaw and West Virginia Wesleyan apparently sent a message.
"We got tired of losing, the feeling of losing,'' said UC senior forward Xavier Humphrey. "After the Wesleyan game, our practices were way better. We were dogfighting each other in practice, and it showed in the game.''
"On Sunday,'' said Osborne, "we had one of our best practices of the year.''
In the three-game losing streak, he added, "our effort and execution were abysmal.''
Humphrey, a former Marshall walk-on, led UC with 22 points on 9-of-17 shooting, as well as three assists and three steals, and contributed to a 10-point run that erased a first-half deficit and an 11-pointer that offset a deficit in the second half.
UC, in fact, squandered a 46-36 second-half lead, falling behind 47-46 with 13:25 left in the game, but scored the next 11 points and never trailed again. Initiating the 11-point spree was Humphrey's alley-oop dunk on a feed from Tino diTrapano.
"The key was us sharing the ball, playing together, taking the best available shot,'' said the UC coach.
Like basketball coaches everywhere, Glenville's Stephen Dye got another lesson in the difficulties of playing on the road.
"We're just as good as anybody in this league,'' said Dye, a former assistant under Osborne at Glenville, "but we just have got to find a way to win on the road. That's college basketball for you. You look around the conferences, you look everywhere, Division I, Division II, Division III. The teams that win on the road are the teams that win every year.''
DiTrapano added 13 points, five rebounds and three assists, and Hayden Annett, hitting 3 of 5 from 3-point distance, and Aleksander Kesic contributed 11 points each. Fred Simpson came off the bench to score nine points and lead the team with eight rebounds.
Glenville's Lamar Mallory scored 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting, Lamont Cole had 17 and Donte Morales 16. The Pioneers, who defeated West Virginia State 110-88 in Glenville on Saturday, are 6-4, 3-3.
Reach Mike Whiteford at email@example.com.