BOWIE — The Bowie State University men’s basketball team is off to a rough start, losing its first five games including its home opener on Nov. 17, where the Bulldogs dropped a nail-biter to Bloomfield College (N.J.), 75-71, at A.C. Jordan Arena.
Bloomfield forward Kavione Green recorded game-highs in points (19) and rebounds (18) on 8-of-15 shooting to lead the Bears (1-3) to their first win of the season. Though BC committed an astounding 31 turnovers, it escaped with the win after controlling the game and holding the Bulldogs to 35.9 percent shooting from the field and 21.1 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
“We didn’t run our sets,” Bowie State Head Coach Darrell Brooks said. “We didn’t guard. At times we didn’t rebound. We didn’t make shots.”
Bowie struggled early on, trailing by as much as 12. Toward the end of the first half, Bowie picked up the defensive intensity and found some rhythm on offense to close the deficit, tying the game at 35 apiece entering the locker room.
The second half saw more physicality as both squads contended for their first win of season. Midway through the half, Bloomfield built its lead to double digits again as guys knocked down timely shots and forced Bowie to take contested shots on the defensive end.
With about five minutes remaining, Bowie State (0-5) commenced a full-court trap which yielded expected results as the Bulldogs reduced the deficit to 73-69 with one minute left.
Bears guard Dontay Julius made a free throw for one of his 12 points and Bowie responded with a lay-in to make it 74-71 with a little more than 30 seconds on the game clock. With 21.3 seconds to go, the Bulldogs forced another Bloomfield turnover – this time a backcourt violation – creating an opportunity to tie the game.
However, the Bulldogs came up empty while on the following possession, the Bears grabbed the board and Julius made a free throw to make it a two-possession game to seal the four-point win.
“I thought it was sloppy starting, I thought it was a sloppy middle, I thought it was a sloppy end,” Brooks said. “We made a little run at the end, but we don’t have enough guys that they’re going to do everything that they need to do to win a basketball game, a very winnable basketball game.”
Leading the way for BSU was David Belle, who poured in 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting and nailed his only 3-pointer. Forward Keith Duffin Jr. contributed with 11 points, 10 boards and four steals, while guard Juwun Smith chipped in with 13 points and guard Cameron Hayes recorded 10 points and five rebounds.
“I feel like the other team just played harder than us,” said Belle, a redshirt junior guard. “Honestly just came down, and not executing and [they] wanted it more than us, and it showed at the end.”
A number of sloppy mistakes hurt the Bulldogs and their chances of win, leaving Brooks to express his total displeasure with how his team performed in his postgame remarks.
“We don’t have enough guys that care about winning where winning is the most important thing,” Brooks said. “… Winning is important, but it’s got to be the most important thing. And for a young team, that’s what they got to learn. Until they learn that, we’re gonna keep losing games.
The Bulldogs’ most recent loss came at West Chester (Pa.), after another rough shooting night (36.2 percent from the field, 17.6 percent from 3) and committing 21 turnovers.
West Chester’s Jackson Hyland was 6-for-11 from the field and 2-for-4 from behind the arc to finish with a game-high 19 points and three assists. Frank Rokins scored 14 along with six steals and seven rebounds to lead the Golden Rams (2-2) to an easy win, 76-57, over Bowie State on Nov. 20.
WCU scored 27 points off turnovers and jumped out to a 29-point lead late in the first half on its way to the comfortable win.
Belle finished with a double-double, 13 points and 11 rebounds, to lead Bowie. The Bulldogs will host Newberry College on Nov. 23 at 2 p.m. and Augusta University on Nov. 25 at 2 p.m. as they seek to pick up a first of the year.