Comeback Falls Short; Concord Loses to UPJ, 92-82 - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Comeback Falls Short; Concord Loses to UPJ, 92-82

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ATHENS -

The Concord University men's basketball team cut a 21-point first-half deficit down to just six points, but were unable to complete the comeback in its 92-82 loss to Pitt-Johnstown in the first round of the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Tuesday night at the Carter Center.

The Mountain Lions end their season with an overall record of 16-11, giving Concord two winning-seasons in as many years. Pitt-Johnstown improves to 15-12 and moves on to play top-seed West Liberty 8:30 p.m. Thursday in the second round of the WVIAC Tournament in Charleston, W. Va.

Senior forward Damien Tunstalle led five Concord players in double figures with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field and a 5-for-8 effort from three-point range. He also grabbed four rebounds and came away with two steals

Tunstalle finishes his college career with 1,012 points, the 33rd most points in school history.. He also ranks 10th in the CU record books with 154 career three-pointers made.

Senior guard Eric Bailey came off the bench to score a season-high 15 points, grab five rebounds and dish out 22 assists.

Sophomore guard Mike Boyd and sophomore forward Jordan Davis both came close to double-doubles. Boyd, who ranks 14th in the nation in assist/turnover ratio, scored 14 points and dished out nine assists while Davis went for 14 points and eight rebounds.

Sophomore guard Thomas Brown added 13 points in his first start since Jan. 14.

As a team, the Mountain Lions shot 47.6 percent (30-for-63) from the field and matched a season-high with 11 three-pointers while turning the ball over just 11 times. However, Concord made just 11-of-22 free throw attempts while UPJ was 23-for-23 from the foul line. Pitt-Johnstown also shot 58.8 percent from the field and 50 percent (9-for-18) from three-point range.

Concord won the rebounding battle against the Mountain Cats (31-30) in addition to holding advantages in bench scoring (19-16), second-chance points (13-7) and points off of turnovers (17-15).

Pitt-Johnstown made 11 of its first 14 field goal attempts to start the game, but Concord was able to keep pace with the Mountain Cats and trailed by just five points (27-22) at the midway mark in the half thanks to Tunstalle's 11 early points.

The remainder of the period belonged to UPJ as the visitors continued to have the hot shooting hand during a 21-5 run that opened up their largest lead of the night at 48-27 lead. Brown made a three-pointer with 23 seconds left in the half to cut the deficit to 18 points at the break (48-30). Pitt-Johnstown shot 66.7 percent from the field in the first half.

Concord trailed by double digits for the majority of the opening 13 minutes of the second half, but the Mountain Lions would step up its defense to force two turnovers and explode for an 8-0 run in under a minute to pull to within six points of UPJ, 72-66, with six minutes remaining in regulation.

The comeback was keyed by a three-pointer from Bailey followed by a successful layup and a accompanying foul shot by Boyd with Davis capping the run off by drawing a foul and knocking down both free throws.

However, Concord's comeback bid would end there despite making six of its final 12 shots due to UPJ converting 18 free throw attempts in the final four minutes of play to escape with the 92-82 win and move on to the second round of the conference tournament.

Bill Luther went 6-for-8 from three-point range and scored a game-high 24 points for Pitt-Johnstown. Nick Novak went over the 2,000 career-point mark with 19 points on the night.

Concord loses Gentry Shrewsbury, Bailey and Tunstalle to graduation, but will return eight players from this year's team in 2013-14.