The men's game followed an eerily similar pattern as the Bulldogs fell behind early in the second half and trailed by five with 72 seconds to play, but the Rams would not get another shot on goal with three straight turnovers leading to seven points by the Bulldogs and Matt Towry's layup at the buzzer producing a 73-71 win.
Coach Mike Poe was unapologetic about the way his team claimed the decision. "We've lost some games this year where we did a lot of good things and just simply didn't make plays at the end," said Poe. "Today, we did more than enough to lose most games, but made big plays when it counted - so I guess you'd say the scales balance out. I'm not satisfied with the way we played, but I'm happy with the attitude and effort that kept us playing through the adversity and eventually gave us a chance to win in the end."
Bulldogs 73, Rams 71
Sean Bridges had four points and Jesse Booher drained a 3-pointer as Wesleyan went up 12-9 in the first six minutes. Bluefield then reeled off 10 unanswered points to lead 19-12. Reserve freshman guard Dylan Powers nailed three 3-pointers as the Bulldogs began to chip away. With Matt Harper adding nine of his 13 first-half points, including one trey, Wesleyan managed to slip back in front, 37-34, going into the intermission.
Harper continued to score in the second half, but his six points were the only ones for TWC in the first seven-plus minutes as the Bulldogs struggled with turnovers and fell behind, 52-43.
"It's a good thing Matt came to play," said Poe. "It wasn't pretty as it was, but it could have gotten a lot uglier."
Matt Towry and Bridges finally got into the scoring act, Harper chipped in with another 3-pointer and a bucket by Justin Hicks cut the gap to two at 58-56. Towry converted a pair of three-point plays and Hicks added another basket, but the Bulldogs still trailed 71-66 with just over a minute to play. E'Jay Ward then came up with a steal and layup and Bluefield threw the ball away on the inbound pass.
Wesleyan patiently worked the ball around before Bridges knotted the score with a 3-pointer. With shot clock off, the Rams were playing for the final shot, but TWC's defensive pressure forced another turnover as the ball deflected off a Bluefield player and out of bounds with eight seconds to play. Ward took the pass and sped up the court, cutting to the left side of the lane for a drive to the basket. As the defense collapsed to cut him off, Ward bounced a pass to Towry. Towry's layup hit the back of the glass as the horn sounded and fell through for the dramatic win.
"We didn't have a very good day in terms of taking care of the basketball," Poe said in reference to his team's 21 turnovers. "That may have been the best play we executed all game."
Harper finished with 22 points on nine of 17 shooting from the field, recorded five rebounds and had one blocked shot. Towry tossed in 16 points and had a game-high 12 rebounds - to go with two blocked shots - and Bridges netted 11 points.
Ward's momentum-changing steal and layup were his only two points of the game, but the sophomore guard had seven assists, capped by the pass to Towry.
Borgia M'bala led Bluefield (7-11, 2-2) with 15 points.
WESLEYAN (73): Ward 2, Bridges 11, Kirk 1, Harper 22, Towry 16, Booher 3, Gray 5, Hicks 4, Powers 9, Gregory.
BLUEFIELD (71): Wright 13, M'bala 15, Carpenter 10, Shakhmetov 2, Wynn 5, Brown, Folden 7, Daniels 7, Zimin 8, Henderson 2, O'Boute, Jackson 2
The Bulldogs play at Tennessee Temple tonight at 7:30 pm and then at Bryan on Wednesday at 7:30 pm. The Bulldogs return home on Saturday to play against Union College at 4:00 pm.