TENNERTON – Learning how to win the close ones and game management in the close ones is something that Buckhannon-Upshur head coach Travis Foster has been preaching to his Buckhannon-Upshur Bucs this season.
All that time coaching it and practicing it paid off for Foster and his Bucs Monday night in a home match-up with the Bridgeport Indians.
The Bucs were down five at the end of the third quarter, at 38-33, but outscored the Tribe by 10 in the final quarter for an impressive 54-49 win.
“This was a big win for the program,” stated Foster after the game. “We have had a mental block with some team names like a University or a Bridgeport, to where we fold. This was big in many different ways for us. It was a huge win for seeding in the sectional tournament, but to also get over that mental block.
Down by that 38-33 score at the end of three quarters, the Bucs went on a 13-2 run to start the fourth quarter.
Josh Loudin scored on a put back and Ryan Hurst scored consecutive baskets tying the game at 38-38.
After a basket by Bridgeport’s Mitchell Duez, Will McCauley scored six straight points including knocking down a three-pointer and Zach White added a foul shot as the Bucs took a 45-40 lead with 5:18 left in the game.
With Bridgeport narrowing the lead down two, at 46-44 with 3:16 remaining, Foster decided to slow down the game running some stall ball taking 90 seconds off the clock before the Indians put the Bucs at the line.
The Bucs were still leading, 50-49, with 14 seconds left after a pair of free throws from Bridgeport’s Duez, when Loudin broke free from the Indian defense on the inbound pass and sent home a two-handed dunk making it a 52-49 contest with nine seconds left.
Bridgeport turned the ball over on its final possession and after a B-U timeout, Loudin broke free again on the inbounds pass and slammed another one home at the buzzer giving the Bucs the 54-49 win.
“Our clock management was very good for the first time in this game,” explained Foster. “We have struggled with that. I believe though that is what won the game for us. When we started taking care of the ball in the final three minutes and making them foul us. That really showed growth from us. We have lost a couple of games this year because of clock management because we wanted to go 300 miles per hour. They understand we can slow it down now and win.”
In a slow-moving first quarter the Bucs were their own worst enemy with several empty possessions as they trailed by one, at 11-10, after eight minutes of action.
The Bucs started to play better in the second quarter taking a 23-19 lead into the break with them after Ryan Hurst ended the quarter with a three-pointer.
The Bucs were down 33-29 late in the third quarter when Ryan Hurst made consecutive baskets to even the game at 33-33, but Bridgeport scored the final five points of the quarter for their 38-33 lead.
Ryan Hurst had a game-high 22 points while White added 10 points.
Duez tallied a team-high 17 points for Bridgeport while Jack Bifano scored 15.
Bridgeport dropped to 6-5 on the season.
The Bucs improved to 8-4 on the year heading into last night’s game with Lewis County.
They will host Elkins Friday at 7:30 p.m.
“We are still trying to get better with each game as we get closer to our sectional tournament,” concluded Foster.
Bridgeport 11 8 19 11 – 49
Buck.-Upshur 10 13 10 21 – 54
Mitchell Duez 5-8 4-4 17; Jack Bifano 6-18 2-5 15; Connor Messe 2-7 0-0 6; Jaden Haywood 2-9 0-0 5; Anthony Spatafore 1-2 0-0 3; Antonio Renzelli 1-1 0-0 2; Thomas Ayoob 0-1 1-3 1; Gavin Tichenor 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-46 7-12 49.
Ryan Hurst 8-15 4-7 22; Zach White 4-5 2-4 10; Josh Loudin 4-7 0-0 8; Will McCauley 3-8 1-1 8; Lamar Hurst 1-5 1-2 3; Harrison Walker 1-4 1-3 3; Sterlin Thropp 0-0 0-0 0; Noam Keith 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-44 8-14 54.
Three-point field goals – Bridgeport: Duez 3-4; Messe 2-6; Spatafore 1-2; Bifano 1-2; Haywood 1-7; Ayobb 0-1. Totals 8-24; Buckhannon-Upshur: R. Hurst 2-6; McCauley 1-1; Walker 1-3. Totals 4-10.
Rebounds – Bridgeport: Bifano 10; Haywood 6; Renzelli 4; team 4; Spatafore 2; Duez 1; deadball 1. Totals 27; Buckhannon-Upshur: McCauley 8, Loundin 8; L. Hurst 7; White 4; team 3; R. Hurst 3; Walker 2; Thropp 1. Totals 36.
Assists – Bridgeport: Haywood 5; Spatafore 4; Ayoob 3; Duez 1; Bifano 1. Totals 14; Buckhannon-Upshur:
Steals – Bridgeport: Duez 2; Haywood 2; Bifano 1. Totals 5; Buckhannon-Upshur: R. Hurst 3; White 2; McCauley 1; L. Hurst 1. Totals 7.
Blocked shots – Bridgeport: Bifano 1. Totals 1; Buckhannon-Upshur: Loudin 2. Totals 2.
Turnovers – Bridgeport: 9; Buckhannon-Upshur: 13.
Personal fouls – Bridgeport: 14; Buckhannon-Upshur: 13.