SOUTH PRINCE GEORGE, Va. – Sophomore Robert Smith/Hampton posted career-highs of 26 points and 12 rebounds to lead No. 2 Richard Bland College to a 93-83 season-opening men’s basketball victory past NJCAA Division I Clinton (S.C.) College on Wednesday night at Statesman Hall. Classmate Stanley Taylor/Petersburg added 15 points and a career-high 10 rebounds for the preseason nationally-ranked Division II Statesmen (1-0), while sophomore Tim Bing Jr./Suitland, Maryland had 13 points and freshman Kenny Southerland/Richmond contributed 13 points and 13 rebounds in his first collegiate game. Geraldo Casimir scored 23 points for the visiting Golden Bears (0-1). Richard Bland will play at CCBC Dundalk on Saturday, November 4, at 4 p.m. in Dundalk, Maryland.
Richard Bland jumped out to an early 9-1 advantage at 17:55 as redshirt-freshman Miodrag Dronjak/Kladovo, Serbia knocked down a three-point field goal followed by a layup from Bing, a slam dunk by Smith and another layup from Smith. The Statesmen extended the lead to 17-5 at 15:17 following a layup by Southerland, and it was still a 12-point game at 30-18 with 8:20 left in the opening half after a pair of free throws from Taylor. Clinton used a quick 9-1 run to close to within 31-27 at 6:35, but Richard Bland stretch the margin back to 39-31 at 3:12 following a free throw by Smith. The Golden Bears, however, closed the half with a 12-3 run to lead 43-42 at the intermission. Smith and Taylor each scored 10 first-half points, while Southerland added nine.
Clinton got a three-pointer from Casimir to open the second half at 19:13 for its largest lead of the game, 46-42, but Richard Bland responded with six unanswered points to lead 48-46 at 18:14. Smith buried a three-pointer along two free throws from Bing and one free throw by sophomore Tre’ Patterson/Richmond. The contest remained close for several minutes before the Statesmen took the lead for good at 56-55 on a layup by Taylor with 14:42 on the clock. Richard Bland put together a 12-1 run to lead 66-56 at 12:25, getting points from five different players, including a dunk from Patterson and another three-pointer from Smith. The Statesmen matched its largest lead at 12 points, 78-66, with 5:31 left to play after a layup by Smith. The Golden Bears managed to get within 79-76 at 3:41, and the margin was four at 84-80 with 2:34 remaining, but the hosts finished on a 9-3 run that included consecutive dunks from Smith toward the final margin.
Smith led Richard Bland with his game-high and career-high 26 points, adding a career-high 12 rebounds for his first collegiate double-double. Taylor added 15 points and a career-high 10 rebounds for his first collegiate double-double, as well, along with a game-high three steals. Southerland finished with 13 points and a game-high 13 rebounds for his first collegiate double-double, too, in his first collegiate game. Bing had 13 points and matched his career-high with nine rebounds. Patterson contributed nine points, while freshman Ryan Jones/Smithfield had a game-high five assists in his first collegiate game.
Richard Bland shot 47% (31-66) from the field, including 39% (5-12) on three-pointers, and 59% (26-44) from the free throw line. The Statesmen outrebounded the visitors, 57-35, and had a 23-9 advantage in second-chance points during the contest played in front of a near-capacity and raucous crowd of 739.
Casimir led Clinton with his 23 points, while Christian Kent added 19 points, Micah Smith had 18 points and Terrance Warren contributed 12 points. The Golden Bears shot 41% (29-70) from the field, including 26% (5-19) on three-pointers, and 63% (20-32) at the line.
Richard Bland and Clinton were playing for the first time in the sport of men’s basketball, and the Statesmen now lead the young series 1-0.
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