The Bears also have a wealth of talent.
That talent came through down the stretch Tuesday night as the Bears used a late offensive spurt to earn a 73-59 victory over the Southern Union Bison in the home opener at Glen Clem Memorial Gymnasium.
Bevill State had an off and on night on offense, but the Bears were in mid-season form on defense, controlling the paint and putting a choke hold on Southern Union.
“I like this team,” said Bevill State coach Rick Bolling of his squad made up of 14 freshmen and two sophomores. “Even though we are young, we’ve got some good talent. We just need to groom them. Sometimes we get so nervous out there. Once we settle down, we’ll be all right.”
Tuesday’s game was a back-and-forth affair until a torrid Bevill State spurt turned a one-point lead into a double-digit advantage. Once the Bears pushed the lead to 10 points, Southern Union didn’t get within striking distance again.
“I thought we played great defense,” Bolling said. “If you give up 59 points in this league, you’re going to have a chance to win every night. Overall, I was very pleased.”
With 13 minutes left in the game, Bevill State (1-2) held a narrow 43-42 lead. From there, a 13-2 run by the Bears, put the game away.
Greg Johnson started the run with a basket underneath. Ricky Sears followed with a bucket and William Johnson connected on a 3-pointer for a 50-44 lead. Robert Wakefield closed the run with a steal and a layup for a 56-44 lead. Southern Union (1-2) got no closer than nine points the rest of the way.
Bevill State appeared to take control of the game in the opening half.
The Bears used a 9-0 run over a three-minute stretch to take a 20-9 advantage with 11:20 left in the half. DeMario Frazier opened the run, Ralph Floyd had two baskets, Corey Smith added a score and Sears buried a 3-pointer.
After that, Bevill State’s offense went cold. The Bears scored just eight points over the final 10 minutes of the half and Southern Union’s Brandon Sims put in a basket at the buzzer for a 29-28 halftime lead.
For Bevill State, Sears led a balanced offensive attack with 11 points, Greg Johnson and Chris Key each had nine while Wakefield and Smith each had six points.
Bevill State struggled from the free throw line, going 10-of-27 (37 percent) on the night. The team was just 2-of-12 in the first half.
The win was Bevill State’s first since December of 2009. The Bears, who lost every Alabama Community College Conference game last season, had dropped 16 games in a row.
The Bears will return to the court Friday with a home game set for 7 p.m. against Lurleen B. Wallace.