Sloppy but effective
Capital tops Morgantown
By Doug Smock
Staff writer

The Capital Cougars were a little too sloppy for coach Carl Clark’s liking Thursday night at the Hoops Classic in the Civic Center.
“I thought we didn’t play well,” he said. “Our defense is our strength, and I didn’t like hardly anything we did on defense. I think we made a lot of mistakes, offensively, handling the basketball. We didn’t get into any kind of groove.
“It was just sporadic. We just didn’t have any continuity at all. It was just raggedy.”

If you didn’t know Clark, you would think he was talking as a defeated coach. Quite the contrary — Capital forced Morgantown into 16 turnovers and 36 percent shooting in a 60-49 victory.
The Cougars (2-0) took a 7-0 lead and never trailed. But to illustrate how sloppy the game started out, Capital jumped out to that lead despite four turnovers and 3-for-10 shooting.
All told, the Cougars had seven shots blocked by the taller Mohigans, and shot 39 percent for the game. They also suffered 16 turnovers and hit just 10-of-22 from the foul line.
Capital’s Malik Witten led all scorers with 17 points, but Clark expects much more from the junior. But Clark knows Witten must shake off a long football season as the Cougars’ quarterback.
“He’s definitely going to lead us with his scoring,” Clark said. “He can get to the basket, and I think his outside shooting will improve as the season goes along. When he gets the football out of him, he’ll start relaxing a little bit and start stroking the ball a little better.”
For all the Cougars’ problems, they kept the suspense to a minimum. Every time the Mohigans got close, Capital answered in a big way.
Early in the second quarter, Morgantown cut the lead to 9-8, but Witten muscled through a defender for a three-point play. Later in the quarter, Sidney Price’s 3-pointer cut the lead to 16-14 but Rio Berkley answered with his own 3-pointer for the Cougars. Witten turned in another three-point play to stem another rally.
Morgantown kept the margin in single digits, then mounted another run midway through the third quarter. Elliot Law and Zach Cooke canned jumpers off consecutive Capital turnovers, cutting the lead to 32-31.
That’s when Charles Leonard hit his only basket of the night, a 3-pointer that also drew a foul by Cooke. A lane violation prevented a four-point play and Price even scored the next basket for the Mohigans, but the momentum shifted. The Cougars stretched the lead to nine near the end of the quarter, then 55-42 late in the fourth.
“That was a big play,” Clark said of Leonard’s shot

Berkley, a junior who did not play last season, scored 13 points for Capital. Dominique Green, a junior who transferred from South Charleston, added 10. Junior Kenneth Booth, a returning player but new starter at point guard, had eight.
That sums up another challenge for Clark.
“In a way, I anticipate the type of play we’re having right now because of the new kids and the inexperience,” he said. “But I’m hoping, in time, we’ll be able to work these things out. We did that, and Morgantown is a good ball team, but we still were able to win. That’s a good sign.”
J.T. Lewis led Morgantown with 13 points, followed by Price with 11.
To contact staff writer Doug Smock, use e-mail or call 348-5130.

Capital’s Malik Witten drives to the hoop past Morgantown’s Zach Cooke (25) and J.T. Lewis (21).