On Thursday, Jan. 23, the Glenville State Pioneers welcomed the WV Wesleyan Bobcats to GSC for what many expected to be an exciting contest.
Both teams were 6-4 in the Mountain East Conference entering the game, and a victory in this match-up would define which team was #4 and which was #5 in the conference.
Throughout the first half, the two teams kept things close until about the ten minute mark. At this point, WV-Wesleyan got hot and took the lead. A WVWC three-point shot at 8:46 put the Bobcats up by eight.
While the Pioneers would mount a comeback in those final minutes and trail by only two points at the three minute mark, their last points of the half came from a pair of free throws by senior Lamar Mallory at the 3:15 mark.
The Bobcats scored seven points in those final minutes to lead by nine, 40-31, at intermission.
The Pioneers emerged from the locker-room ready to fight back; unfortunately, the Bobcats were hot.
Over the first ten minutes of the half, WVWC hit shot after shot, and at 10:55, their lead had grown to 19, 60-41.
At 10:09, the Pioneers were dealt a very large blow. Mallory, who had already scored 17 points for the Pioneers in the match-up, was fouled.
While it has not been confirmed, many believe this may be a season ending injury for the GSC senior. That is never the way anyone wants to see an athlete's collegiate career end.
For the 2013-2014 season, Mallory, who was averaging 31.1 minutes per contest and had started every game this year, was leading the conference in scoring with 22 points per a game, was #4 in rebounds with 8.9 rebounds a contest, and had the highest field goal percentage.
The Bobcats took their biggest lead of the game, 23 points, at 7:46 left in the game, 68-45.
However, the one thing this season has proved about these Pioneers is they are not a team to give up. Over those final minutes they pushed.
Ultimately, they were defeated, for their first home loss of 2014, in a nine point contest, 87-78.
The Pioneers finished with three players in double digits.
Junior Donte Morales led his team with 23 points. He was only one rebound away from a double-double (9).
Reggie Williams contributed 18 points and four assists.
Finally, despite playing only 24 minutes in the game, Mallory put up 17 points and grabbed five rebounds.
It was a rough day for the Pioneers from behind the arc as they only hit four of 22 attempts from three-point land.
Despite the loss, the Pioneers had to quickly recover and prepare for their next opponent - the Concord Mountain Lions.
The Pioneer-Mountain Lion Matchup is always exciting as it pits Head Coach Stephen Dye against his former assistant Kent McBride.
In the pair's last five meetings, the Mountain Lions are 4-1 over the Pioneers.
In fact, in early December, the Mountain Lions took a big victory over the Pioneers, 83-71, in Athens. The GSC Men were out for revenge.
With Mallory out for the contest, junior, big man Jordan McCloud took the start. McCloud has been instrumental throughout the season, and he has even seen other starts. However, with the loss of Mallory, this was his time to shine.
At 18:44, the Pioneers took the lead following a layup and one from McCloud, 6-4. From that point, they would never look back.
Throughout the first half, the Pioneers led by as many as 12, the same lead they had at halftime following a Brien Winston assist for another McCloud layup.
Despite the strong first half, the Pioneers were not letting up. They had to prove they were competitive with-or-without their star senior.
True freshman Brett Morris hit a three-point shot at 8:44 left in the ball game. The basket gave the Pioneers what would be their biggest lead of the game (28 points), 83-55.
The closest the Mountain Lions got to the Pioneers was 10 points at the 1:46 mark. Ultimately, the Pioneers took the victory, 103-92.
All five starters in the contest scored in double-digits for the Pioneers.
McCloud scored a game high 27 points for the Pioneers. That is also a career high for the JUCO transfer.
Williams recorded a double-double in the match-up with 13 points and 10 assists. With eight rebounds, he was only two short of a triple-double.
Adding to the Pioneers in double-digits were: Morales (25), Kevin Gray (15), and Lamont Cole (13). Morris was a single point from joining them with nine points, including two-for- three from three-point territory.
The Pioneers will get a rematch with WV Wesleyan in their final game of the season at Buckhannon on Saturday, March 1.
For now, they prepare for a home battle with UVA-Wise, a team they barely defeated in December, this Thursday, January 30 at 7:30 p.m.
While that should be an exciting match-up, the MEC game of the week should definitely be the Saturday, Feb. 1 contest between the #5 GSC Pioneers and the #2 Shepherd Rams at the Jesse R. Lilly Gymnasium.
The Pioneers will be out for revenge. Join them for the contest at 4:00 p.m.
Also, mark your calendars for the week of the March 3-9 for 2014 Mountain East Conference Tournament. The Pioneers are in a good spot to host a Round One Match-up.