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WVC men's basketball: UC confident entering postseason

The men's basketball regular season concluded for West Virginia Conference Saturday night.

The University of Charleston handed West Virginia State its final loss of the regular season 92-75 on a subdued Senior Night in Fleming Hall.  

State (10-18, 7-15) will have an opportunity for revenge against UC (18-8, 14-8) Tuesday night at 7:30 in Eddie King Gym in the first round of the WVC conference tournament.  

March is still a few days away, but the delirium has come early to UC.

With 15:07 left to play in the second half Saturday night, State's Anton Hutchins caught the UC defense napping. Hutchins whipped a no-look pass through the Golden Eagles defense to Stephen Thompson, who was alone under the basket for an easy basket.  

Downey was off the bench immediately with a few choice words for his squad's lackadaisical performance.  

Thompson's score had cut the UC lead to 30 points.  

The Golden Eagles had four players in double figures.  

"They really got themselves ready to play," Downey said.  

But in this "up-and-down" season for UC, Downey wasn't about to let up for a second. He had shifted into a postseason mindset in the regular season finale.

"I love tournament time," UC's third-year coach said. "I've been lucky to have some good teams and have a good record in postseason conference tournaments."

Downey's record in postseason conference tournaments is better than good.  His lifetime record in conference tournaments is 18-4, including 5-2 at UC.  

Downey remains an NCAA tournament aspirant, although it'll be a challenge to earn a spot there.

"I don't know how we get in whether it's win the tournament or make the finals," Downey said.

"We just have to keep winning."  

Last season, the Golden Eagles went all the way to the conference championship game before losing to West Liberty in overtime.

State Coach Bryan Poore described his team's performance this season as "frustrating."  

The Yellow Jackets shot a dismal 28 percent in the first half and trailed UC 50-27 at the break.

"We could never get on the same page and never get some confidence, some chemistry, and some momentum," Poore said.  

The Jackets did outscore UC in the second half 48-42, but the 23-point halftime deficit was too much to overcome.  

Poore remains hopeful about Tuesday's rematch.

"If we play every possession like it's our last then I think we've got a chance," he said.

All first-round tournament games are Tuesday night. The higher seeds host games on campus sites.

West Liberty, the top seed, finished 27-1 overall and 21-1 in league play and earned a first-round bye.

The other matchups are: No. 15 Ohio Valley at No. 2 Fairmont State; No. 14 Bluefield State at No. 3 Alderson-Broaddus; No. 13 Davis & Elkins at No. 4 Wheeling Jesuit; No. 11 Glenville State at No. 6 Shepherd; No. 10 W.Va. Wesleyan at No. 7 Seton Hill; No. 9 Pitt-Johnstown at No. 8 Concord.

 


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