BLUEFIELD, Va. - A second-half surge was not enough for Union College at No. 10 Bluefield (Va.) College Saturday. After trailing by as many as 14 points, the Bulldogs fought back in a 75-71 setback in a road Appalachian Athletic Conference contest.
A Brett Miller (Carrolton, Ky.) free throw brought Union within two points, 73-71, with 99 seconds left on the clock. A pair of Bluefield free throws iced the game which led to the final score.
Miller finished the game with 15 points to lead the Bulldogs. He tied his career high in scoring as well.
To start the second half, Union scored the first seven points before Bluefield pushed their lead back to 11 points.
Ryne Bretz (Carlisle, Ky.) evened the game at 62 apiece thanks to a 3-pointer from the corner with 7:40 left in the contest. The senior totaled 11 points in his first start of the season.
After the game, Union's overall record evened at 12-12. The Bulldogs' conference record went to 9-5 as Union moved into fourth place in the conference. Bluefield improved to 14-0 in the conference and 21-5 overall.
The Rams extended their winning streak over Union to seven games over the last three seasons.
Union's James Johnson (Lexington, Ky.) scored the game's opening basket 56 seconds into the contest. Bluefield answered a minute later and Union regained the lead 4-2 thanks to Miller 2:23 into the half.
Bluefield tied the game and eventually led 7-6 and 10-9. Bill Davis (Independence, Ky.) poured in two of his six first-half points to make the score 12-11 in favor of Union with 12:53 left in the half. The Bulldogs would push the lead out to four points, 16-12 over the next minute.
The Rams eventually regained the lead after an Omar Reed basket. With the game at 16-15 in favor of Bluefield, the Rams reeled off a 25-15 run to end the half and take a 41-30 lead into the half-time break.
Union would have trailed by 13, but Anthony Coote (Georgetown, Ky.) tipped in an offensive rebound as the first-half expired.
The Bulldogs' defense held the nation's highest scoring team to under their average. Bluefield entered the game averaging 95 points per game.
Reed poured in 25 points to lead all scorers. Curtis Dixon added 22 points while Coryon Ross finished with 13 points.
Davis scored six points and collected six rebounds.
Union made 29 field goals while holding Bluefield to 22. Of the Rams' 22 baskets, eight were 3-pointers and the Bulldogs knocked down four 3-pointers. Bluefield held the advantage at the free-throw line going 23-for-35. On the other side, Union was 9-for-12.
Bluefield forced 15 Union turnovers which led to 19 points. Of the 11 turnovers Union forced, the Bulldogs scored 10 points. The Bulldogs poured in 42 points in the paint.
The four-point margin ties the smallest defeat of the season for the Bulldogs. Union also lost to Milligan (Tenn.) College by four points on Dec. 3, 2008. The four-point margin is also the closest AAC game Bluefield has played all season.
Union concludes the two-game road trip Wednesday with a 7:30 p.m. contest against Tennessee Wesleyan College. The Bulldogs look to extend a two-game winning streak over Tennessee Wesleyan Wednesday. In the first meeting this season Union posted a 75-63 win on Jan. 10.
- The Bulldogs used their 10th different starting lineup of the season and fourth different lineup in the last four games.
- Union is now 12-3 when holding an opponent to under 79 points.
- The Bulldogs started February 0-2, and it is the third time this season (October and November) Union has started a month with two-straight losses.