By John Bombatch
WILBERFORCE — Every time host Wilberforce would take a run at getting the lead in Thursday night’s men’s basketball game with cross-street rival Central State, the Marauders had an answer. As a result, Central State danced away with an 88-70 win, Thursday night in the Wilberforce University gym.
A rowdy crowd of 1,342 danced and screamed for the entire 2-plus hour contest. Fans from both teams could be found dancing in the stands and almost overflowing onto the court itself at times.
Central State held an early double-digit lead, until the host Bulldogs went on an 11-1 run. That scoring binge pulled Wilberforce within three points at 31-28 with 5 minutes left in the half.
A pair of Keilan Banks three-pointers enabled the Marauders to grab some breathing room, but the Bulldogs’ Malik Breckenridge hit a three-pointer from the top of the arch to pull Wilberforce within one point (41-40) right before the half.
Again, CSU responded. This time, Blanks hit a pair of free throws right before the half to give the Marauders a 43-40 lead at the break.
The second half went the same way. Wilberforce pulled within four points (59-55) after Arthur Haggard III hit a pair of free throws, but a 9-3 Marauder run gave CSU the lead for good.
Central State then closed things out with a 16-3 run.
“It was just a matter of us getting a rhythm going. When you’re in a rival game, it’s always difficult. There will always be a lot of emotion and a question of getting scoring runs,” Marauder coach Joseph Price said. “We stayed true to our game plan, and I was proud of our guys for doing that. And everybody scored, except for one player. It was a good night and a good game.”
Blanks led everyone with 25 points. Frank Barber III finished with 15 points, and Markese McGuire tossed down 12 in the CSU win. Jeremy Brown was the team’s top rebounder with a game-high 12.
Breckenridge and Austin Daniels led Wilberforce with 13 points each, while Mitchell and John McCants each hauled in 11 rebounds.
“Unfortunately, my second-leading scorer (Maxime Maisonnet, two points) didn’t have a very good night at all, and that took us out of our game plan. J McCants stepped up and played well for us tonight, and that helped. He doesn’t usually get that much playing time, but he did a nice job for us tonight.” Wilberforce coach Terry Futrell said. “We’d get close, but then they hit some big shots that broke the game open.”
CSU (2-1) takes on Wayne State University at 5 p.m. Wednesday Nov. 23 in Detroit for their next game. Wilberforce is now 4-3 overall. They will next host University of Cincinnati Clermont on Monday, Nov. 21.
MITCHELL MILESTONE: Prior to Thursday’s game, Wilberforce senior Patrick Mitchell was presented with a signed basketball commemorating his 1,000th career point in a recent game Nov. 9 against the University of Akron Wayne. Mitchell hails from St. Petersburg, Fla.
BULLDOG WOMEN WIN: In the early game on Thursday, the Wilberforce women’s basketball team claimed a 90-83 win over the West Virginia University Institute of Technology. The women’s team will host Point Park University at 5:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 21.