MEC Men's Basketball First Round
Alderson Broaddus 82, Davis & Elkins 61 | Final Stats
WHEELING, W.Va. – Why not Alderson Broaddus?
That was more or less the sentiment of Battlers coach Stephen Dye following Wednesday night’s opening-round victory against No. 10 Davis & Elkins inside WesBanco Arena. Behind a game-high 18 points from KJ Walker and a defense-fueled 20-4 second-half run, AB turned a two-point halftime deficit into a quarterfinal matchup with No. 2 West Virginia State at noon on Friday.
“I’m very proud of my guys and their fight, especially in the second half,” Dye said. “For us especially, (defense is key). And we did the same thing the other day at Notre Dame when we were down nine and came back in the second half and won by 14.
“We’re getting better defensively. Toward the beginning of the year and even last year, we were very bad.
“It led to some big-time momentum swings.”
Did it ever.
A back-and-forth first half concluded with a 5-0 run by Davis & Elkins – a 3-pointer out of a timeout by Teemu Tumanoff and a contested layup from Bryton Bissainthe – that gave it a 33-30 lead heading to the locker rooms. Both teams shot it well during the opening 20 minutes, but were undone by turnovers – 10 for the Battlers and eight by the Senators.
The second half, however, was a different story.
Trailing 45-43 following a Ben Gilliam basket, the Battlers reeled off the next 15 points and suddenly it was a 53-45 upper hand. Walker and Coryon Rice, who finished with 16 points after playing one minute in the first half because of foul trouble, sank back-to-back 3-pointers to get the burst started. Rice added a reverse layup and Tahliek Walker got loose for a bucket that forced a Senators timeout.
But the damage had already been done.
“That’s basketball, and I call them four- or five-point swings,” D&E coach Daniel Mondragon said. “We had a couple of those where shots didn’t go in and they made some shots.
“I don’t think the score tells the tale of the game.’’
Perhaps not, but Alderson Broaddus’ second-half defense did. The Battlers limited the Senators to 11 of 29 shooting after halftime, and they did a good job of denying D&E sophomore standout Sam Rolle IV the basketball. Rolle finished with a team-high 15 points, but was held without a field goal in the second half.
The basket on the other end seemed a lot bigger for the Battlers. They finished 53.6 percent from the floor and 50 percent from 3-point range.
“We got a good win against Notre Dame and the momentum carried over here to the first game.” KJ Walker said. “We hope it can continue.”
Dye echoed his star’s sentiment.
“I brag about this team a lot and all the adversity they’ve faced,” Dye said. “We’ve had some really tough losses – I’m talking really tough losses – in this last stretch.
“You never know. I know nobody is picking us to win this thing, but it’s all about momentum and we’ve got a two-game winning streak.”
Vincent Smalls added 13 points for the Battlers. Gilliam, who was in foul trouble throughout, finished with 10.
Wheeling 78, Glenville State 72
WHEELING, W.Va. – To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man.
Wheeling University men’s basketball coach Chris Richardson borrowed a line from professional wrestling icon Ric Flair following Wednesday night’s opening-round victory against Glenville State at WesBanco Arena, which set up yet another matchup with Ohio County rival and top-seeded West Liberty at 6 on Friday night.
“I think for all of us who grew up in the 90s, we heard that every Monday night,” Richardson joked. “I’m happy to get that win but it’s going to have to be a lot better 48 hours for now with what’s ahead.”
The No. 9 Cardinals (10-19) built an 18-point halftime lead before holding off a furious second-half rally by the No. 8 Pioneers (12-16), thanks in no small part to the play of their two all-conference performers Jordan Reid and Jarrett Haines, who combined to score 50 of the team’s 78 points.
“Credit to Glenville State. They were tremendous and we knew they weren’t going to quit,” Richardson said. “We’re fortunate to be able to win that game.
“Defensively in the first half, that’s where we won the game.”
The facts bear that out. Wheeling, after falling behind 7-0 out of the gate, held Glenville to 9 of 32 shooting in that first half en route to building a 42-24 cushion at halftime.
A big part of that was the attention paid to the Pioneers’ John Williams. After being torched twice during the regular season by the league’s leading scorer, Reid had seen enough of Williams to last a lifetime.
“I came in and said, ‘Coach, I want (to guard) him,’ ” Reid confessed. “It’s more of a personal thing for me … I take it personally when a guy scores a lot of points on us.
“That’s just part of basketball.”
Things began to change in the second half. Glenville, which had been using pressure throughout the season but had to back off it to an extent due to a rash of injuries and subsequent depth issues, pulled it back out of the mothballs with its backs against the wall.
The result wasn’t necessarily turnovers – Wheeling had 12 for the game – but it took its toll in the area of quick shots. Those led to more fastbreaks on the other end as Glenville began to chip away.
“They actually shot the ball better in the second half, but somehow we got 17 more shots than they did,” Pioneers coach Justin Caldwell said. “We’ve tried to slow it down a bit more recently but we went back to (the press) in the second half.
“It was do-or-die and that probably had a lot to do with it.”
How quickly did the tide change? A 47-30 Cardinals lead all of a sudden was nine following the completion of a conventional three-point play on the part of Adrian Scarborough, who led all GSU scorers with 21 points on 10 of 11 shooting.
The problem, as it turns out, was every time Glenville got the deficit back to a manageable number, Wheeling had an answer. Back-to-back 3s by Tommy Williams (18 points) and Dajon Congleton made it 59-53 in favor of Wheeling, but Haines countered with a 3 of his own on the other end.
Tommy Williams canned another from deep, but Reid splashed a fadeaway through the nets to push the lead back to eight at 68-60.
Eventually John Williams got the Pioneers to within a basket – 72-20 – with a bucket at 2:09. However, on the next Cardinals possession, Haines converted a contested layup to keep Glenville at bay. John Williams scored again, but the Cardinals hit just enough free throws down the stretch to survive and advance.
“Those guys that are making those (tough) shots – Jordan Reid and Haines – those are all-conference players for a reason,” Caldwell said. “It’s hard to get stops on those guys.
“When you go from down 18 to down two, eventually those guys are going to make a couple tough, contested shots.
“You’ve got to just tip your cap.”
Jay Gentry added 11 points for the Cardinals, including three 3-pointers. John Korte netted 11 points to go with eight rebounds.
John Williams finished with 18 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for the Pioneers, while Tommy Williams also scored 18.
Now Wheeling turns its attention to a third matchup with West Liberty, which already has beaten it twice and is the No. 2-ranked team in the country.
“I’m friends with a lot of the guys on that team and I’m looking forward to it also because it’s such a big rivalry,” Reid said. “It’s senior year and the ball stops bouncing for everybody, whether you’re the best, Michael Jordan, or you’re not that good.