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WVC men's basketball: Yellow Jackets unable to complete rally

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There was a point in Thursday's West Virginia Conference men's basketball game at Fleming Hall between West Virginia State and Concord when they didn't have a game ball.

An errant pass from State sent it into over the railing and down the steps, into the hall where it was recovered by a fan with 9:33 left in the game.

Such was the way things went for Coach Bryan Poore's Yellow Jackets (3-3, 1-1), who failed to recover from the 18-point deficit at that point and dropped a 68-62 decision to the Mountain Lions (4-1, 2-1).

"We didn't execute defensively or offensively, we're not shooting the ball and we were taking bad shots as well," Poore said. "As a result of that, they're getting run outs, scoring and executing.

"We've been real inconsistent. We've played some games on the road where we've been really good, but we've played some games where we weren't very good."

This was State's first game of the season at Fleming Hall, but its seventh loss at home in the last 14 home games dating to a 61-55 defeat to Shepherd on Nov. 19, 2011.

For Concord's part, the Mountain Lions have won consecutive games in Institute for the first time since claiming three straight victories from 1999-2002 - Poore's first three years at State. Concord is 6-8 at State since 1999.

"Going in we had a game plan, I was really proud of our execution," said Concord second-year Coach Kent McBride, who is 3-0 against State. "The collective effort ... everybody rebounded the ball well. I looked at the stats, all of our starting five had at least two rebounds."

The Mountain Lions received 25 points from former Beckley star Damien Tunstalle, who used his well-rounded game to hit five 3-pointers, grab five rebounds and dish out two assists.

Eric Bailey - from nearby Westside High in Clear Fork, less than two hours from Athens, had five points and six rebounds off the bench. Gentry Shrewsbury, who starred at Wyoming East High in New Richmond, also less than two hours from Athens, had four points, seven rebounds and two assists.

Concord managed to push the lead to 63-43 after a David Baruom putback with 6:40 left when State began its comeback.

When Juan Johnson hit his only 3-pointer of the game with 32.4 seconds remaining, State was on a 14-1 run and cut the lead to 64-57.

Concord's Paul Byrd made one of two free throws to push the lead back to eight, but after a timeout by the Mountain Lions, the Yellow Jackets turned the ball over. Concord held a 68-59 lead when Kendrick Ward banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to provide the final score.

Ultimately, State couldn't get much help for 6-foot-5 senior forward David Ford, the biggest concern for McBride.

Ford finished with 13 rebounds but managed just nine points on 4-of-11 shooting facing a lot of attention in the post.

"Concord tried to take away the post," Ford said. "They sagged down on us a lot. I got double-teamed a lot. But, at the same time, Anton Hutchins, Kendrick Ward and Brandon Ross, I think everybody did a good job of stepping up, but on the defensive end we just need to lock down more on the defensive end and limit teams to one shot."

Hutchins finished with 14 points to share scoring honors with Ward - two newcomers to the State program. Jordan Davis had 11 points as the only other Concord player in double figures.

However, State struggled mightily from long range, hitting only three of its 16 3-point attempts, spoiling a game in which the hosts had four more steals (12-8), four fewer turnovers (18-22) and five more blocked shots (7-2).

"We need some guard depth, but we need to execute better and not necessarily running a play, but taking care of the play and understanding what's going on in the game," Poore said. "When to drive and when not to drive, when to pass and when to shoot. We're not playing with a purpose. We're just kind of out there balling. Our there balling in this league don't get it."

State hosts Wheeling Jesuit on Saturday before Tuesday's visit to West Liberty, the No. 1 team in the National Association of Basketball Coaches NCAA Division II Poll.


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