Title image via Todd Griffith
Courtesy of James Garcia, Sports Information Director, West Virginian State Athletics
SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio – The No. 15 West Virginia State men’s basketball team (14-1, 8-1 MEC) won a gritty game at Notre Dame College (8-6, 5-4 MEC) by a final score of 88-82 after making one of the longest road trips of the conference schedule on Wednesday. The contest was deadlocked on 10 occasions and the lead changed eight times before State seized it for good.
Redshirt junior Anthony Pittman nearly had a triple-double with 17 points, 11 boards and eight assists. This was his second double-double in a row and his third of the season. Graduate guard Taevon Horton was second in scoring for WVSU with 16 points, including two three-point buckets. Sophomore guard Bunky Brown had his best game of the season with 12 points on 6-for-10 shooting along with six rebounds.
The Yellow Jackets struggled to make their shots in the opening eight minutes of the game and fell behind 15-8 to Notre Dame. They quickly turned things around, however, with a 9-3 spurt over the next two minutes that closed the gap to a single point, 18-17. Bunky Brown made an unconventional layup to spark the run prior to Aboubacar Cissedraining a three-point bucket. Anthony Pittman then banked a pair of layups to shrink Notre Dame’s lead to one.
State clung to the Falcons’ talons until the seven-minute mark when the lead changed. Seven unanswered points were scored by the Yellow Jackets in less than a minute with Ibn Loyal knocking down a shot from behind the arc to put WVSU up by three, 28-25.
The lead did not last long with Notre Dame going on a 10-2 run over the ensuing two minutes to go up by five, 35-30. The tide then turned once more before the half with eight unanswered points being scored by State over a three-minute span. Four different Yellow Jackets made shots while the Falcons missed five shots and turned the rock over once. WVSU was suddenly up by three, 38-35, with a minute left until halftime. A three-pointer was sunk by NDC in the final minute of the first half to tie the score at 38-apiece before the break.
The Falcons won the first five minutes of the second half and grabbed an eight-point advantage, 57-49, over State. A timeout taken by Head Coach Bryan Poore then set the Yellow Jackets straight and a 10-2 run by WVSU followed that knotted the score at 59-all with 12:27 remaining. A steal by Malik Whitaker resulted in a fastbreak layup by Taevon Horton to kickstart the run. Whitaker then contributed further with a big-time dunk before Horton and Noah Jordan each hit treys.
Another huge run by State occurred about three minutes later that ended at the seven-minute mark and resulted in a six point lead, 72-66. The Yellow Jackets outscored the Falcons 13-3 during the three-minute long stretch. Pittman took charge in the beginning with a pair of buckets while Samier Kinsler came through towards the end with a three and a layup.
Notre Dame then shrunk the lead down to two, 76-74, with just under five minutes left to play. Horton cooled off the comeback by making a shot from downtown shortly thereafter. Scoring from both teams then ceased until the two-minute mark when Pittman converted 1-of-2 free throw attempts. He made another lone free throw attempt moments later to put the Yellow Jackets up by seven, 81-74.
The Falcons scored four unanswered to close the gap to three points, 81-78, before one minute showed on the clock. The final minute contained a flurry of free throws in which State made 7-of-10 attempts to hang on to win it.
The Yellow Jackets will return to Institute for a matchup with Alderson Broaddus on Saturday, Jan. 14th. The Battlers are coming off a 69-55 upset victory over Charleston. The tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.
Next Game: Alderson Broaddus University 1/14/2023 | 4:00 PM