The Kent State Tuscarawas Golden Eagles found their way down I-77 through an early morning snow storm, only to find that it wasn't the only squall brewing as they lost 90-59 in Bluefield, WV on Friday afternoon. The deluge by Bluefield State didn't start immediately as they teetered on double digit leads for most of the first half aided by Navy and Gold miscues. The hosts made a late first half push to take a 47-30 lead into the locker room dominating the action in the paint and scoring off of turnovers.
The Golden Eagles scored the first four points of the second half to cut the deficit to 47-34 before a 9-0 wave, fueled by three steals and an offensive stick-back made things more uncomfortable for the visitors 56-34. Malik Campbell broke that string with a three-ball at the 16:02 mark, but the real trouble was yet to come.
Bluefield State turned up the pressure defense and capitalized on a blocked shot that was pushed ahead for a runout layup, a same-team lost rebound under the host's basket was gobbled up and dunked home and a triple made things nearly impossible at 63-37. Their sprint-ahead was interrupted by a basket interference call on the Big Blues, two ankle-breaking Campbell baskets, a Gunnar Tharp trey and an errant alley-oop by the Eagles that went into the basket for three to trim the lead to 63-49.
Bluefield State collected themselves after a quick timeout to stem the Golden Eagles momentum and promptly ripped off nine straight points to take command 72-49. Once again they took advantage of three forced turnovers and a Golden Eagles foul on a three-point shooter. By that time it was too late as the torrent engulfed the Navy and Gold and they could not recover. The taller Big Blues exploited their size advantage in the lane where they outscored the Golden Eagles 48-18 and scored 21 second-chance points. For the game they made 30/53 two point attempts for 57%.
Tharp and Campbell continued to be the two-headed scoring monster for the Golden Eagles as they combined for 40 points on the afternoon. Tharp would score 21 to lead the way and Campbell was right behind contributing 19. Campbell was also the leading rebounder for KSU Tusc with nine and Tharp grabbed five misses.
The Golden Eagles return home to host rival Akron Wayne in a rescheduled game on Tuesday, February 5, 2019 at 7 p.m.
Malik Campbell scored 19 points & grabbed 9 boards. (Photos by Dave Contini)