Rams fend off Milligan

By Dallas Cook

   Ending a six-game losing streak Thursday night with a win over Virginia Intermont, the Milligan College Buffalos hoped to get another victory Saturday evening over AAC (Appalachian Athletic Conference) rival Bluefield.
   Things wouldn't turn out the way Milligan coach Tony Wallingford wanted them to as the Rams (17-11, 11-6 AAC) knocked off the Buffalos (9-14, 5-9) by the score of 66-62.
   "This was a good win for us," said Bluefield coach Tom Brown. "Anytime you can get a win here at Milligan you have to be real pleased."
   The first half was a back-and-forth battle, with both teams turning the ball over and switching the lead numerous times to keep things interesting.
   "We've got to cut down on turnovers," said Wallingford. "Turnovers and rebounding have been our two biggest problems and that's been keeping us from winning games."
   Bluefield's Dimingo Hale pushed his team ahead with 10 first-half points including two three pointers and four rebounds.
   "We depend on him a lot," said Brown. "He's been pretty consistent for us all year. He did a great job defensively for us on (Michael) Morrell."
   Senior Lance Ashby of Milligan lit it up from the three-point line also, as he connected twice to give him 12 points in the half.
   "We felt like we had to be active from the perimeter but also get some touches on the inside," Wallingford said. "We had to go to the inside in order to help us on the outside."
   Up 34-31 at halftime, the Buffalos came out and played hard at the start of the second half but a very athletic and speedy Rams team started to pour it on as they went up 48-41 midway through the second half.
   Milligan cut the lead and came back to tie it up at 48-48 with baskets from Derek Dyer, Craig Emmert and James Howard who all were forces in Milligan's rebounding.
   Bluefield though regrouped and took the lead once again while stopping yet another late Milligan comeback to take a 61-54 lead. The Buffalos fought hard in the end but fell short as the Rams went on to get the win 66-62.
   "Overall I think we got better today," said Wallingford. "We did a lot of good things. We improved our intensity and we got on the boards and stayed with them."
   For Milligan, Ashby led all scores with 18 while Howard followed him up with 16 of his own. Ashby also collected seven rebounds while Howard hauled in nine rebounds along with six blocked shots.
   Also for Milligan, Dyer (nine points) and Michael Morrell (six points) both turned in good performances.
   Hale finished the night with 21 points for the Rams while his teammate Dale Evans chipped in 16 points to go along with six rebounds.
   "They're our leading scorers so we expect big things out of them," Brown said. "They're both good players and they have to play well in order for us to succeed."