BUCKHANNON – The West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats suffered a damaging but not fatal setback on ‘Senior Day’ against the Wheeling Jesuit Cardinals in a Mountain East Conference contest Saturday evening at Rockefeller Center.
The ‘Cats dropped a 75-66 decision to the Cardinals which put them in an eighth-place tie with Wheeling Jesuit in the MEC standings.
The loss dropped Wesleyan to 10-16 overall and 7-13 in the MEC.
Wesleyan is now one game ahead of 10th-place UVa.-Wise and two games ahead of 11th place Glenville State with two games remaining in the regular season.
The MEC takes the top 10 teams into the post-season tournament.
Prior to the game, Wesleyan recognized senior Fred Brondsted, Dedan Williams and student-assistant coach Tom Kotol.
Despite an easy 78-60 win over Wheeling Jesuit back in November at the start of the season, Wesleyan head coach Jack Meriwether knew he would have a battle on his hands Saturday.
“Wheeling Jesuit is the youngest team in the conference,” Meriwether explained. “I told my guys that it would be a totally different team this time around. They were more disciplined and knew their role much better. They have always been very talented, they are just very young.”
Wesleyan had trouble defending the 3-point shot in the second half as Wheeling Jesuit made seven of eight from beyond the 3-point arc.
The Cardinals also shot the ball extremely well the entire game as the hit on 56.1 percent of their shots.
“I feel like Wheeling Jesuit had a great game plan and executed it with discipline,” stated Meriwether. “We were okay in spurts defensively but didn’t play to the level we expect from ourselves. That inconsistency combined with the fact that they just absolutely smacked in the paint is how you get that type of result. Wheeling’s head coach John Peckinpaugh deserves a ton of credit because their game plan was very clearly to attack us at the center position in our zone and we struggled to stop them in there all night.”
The game was tied at 7-7 after a lay-up by Dusan Vicentic with five minutes gone, but Wheeling Jesuit went on a 10-2 run over the next four minutes for a 17-10 advantage.
Wesleyan countered with an 8-0 run behind an old-fashioned 3-point play and then a long-range trey by Clay Todd and a lay-up by Vicentic for an 18-17 advantage with 8:27 left in the half.
Wheeling Jesuit controlled the rest of the half as they outscored Wesleyan by a 16-4 margin for a 33-22 lead at the half.
With Wheeling Jesuit leading 35-24, Todd scored on a fast break lay-up, Luka Petrovic scored two in paint and Daylin Lee went inside for two as the ‘Cats cut the Cardinal lead to five, at 35-30, with three minutes gone in the second half.
A 3-pointer by Edward Flohr closed the gap to just four, at 39-35, but Wheeling Jesuit went on an 8-0 run for a 47-35 lead with 12:24 remaining.
Todd ended the run with a trey but the Cardinals pushed the lead right back to 14 just two minutes later, at 55-41.
A Todd 3-pointer got the deficit under double digits, at 58-49, with 6:47 remaining, but Wesleyan couldn’t get any closer the rest of the way than nine points.
Todd scored a game-high 25 points while Brondsted scored 12 and Lee 10.
Wesleyan shot the ball at a 48.1 clip hitting on 26 of their 54 field goal attempts.
“We felt like we could attack their defense if we got set-to-set offensively, but that’s easy for me to say,” remarked Meriwether. “We came down and shot quickly and played without any discipline offensively for the majority of the first half. That ultimately was a big part of our loss. We were much stronger offensively in the second half but it was too little too late.”
In a reoccurring theme for the Bobcats this year, they went to the line just one time during the game, a free three by Todd in the second half.
Tariq Woody scored 25 points to place Wheeling Jesuit while DeAndre Robinson had 21.
The win was the third straight for the Cardinals and improved them to 8-18 overall and 7-13 in the MEC.
The Bobcats will visit Fairmont State for a conference game Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and then conclude their regular season Saturday at Glenville State for a 4 p.m. tip.
Wheeling Jesuit 33 42 – 75
West Virginia Wesleyan 22 44 – 66
Wheeling Jesuit 75
Tariq Woody 11-14 3-4 25, DeAndre Robinson 8-13 0-0 21, Steve Cannady 3-8 0-0 6, Jay Gentry 2-4 0-0 5, Franck Kamgain 2-4 0-1 5, Emmanuel Ansong 4-8 1-2 9, Jeremiah April 2-3 0-0 4, Miguel Rodriguez 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 32-57 7-14 75.
West Virginia Wesleyan 66
Clay Todd 10-14 1-1 25, Fred Brondsted 4-12 0-0 12, Luke Petrovic 4-6 0-0 9, Dusan Vicentic 3-9 0-0 7, Edward Flohr 1-2 0-0 3, Daylin Lee 4-11 0-0 10, Adam Horton 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-54 1-1 66.
Three-point field goals – Wheeling Jesuit: Robinson 5-5, Gentry 1-2, Kamgain 1-2, Rodriguez 0-2, Cannady 0-3. Totals 7-14; West Virginia Wesleyan: Todd 4-7, Brondsted 4-10, Lee 2-5, Flohr 1-2, Petrovic 1-3, Vicentic 1-6. Totals 13-33.
Rebounds – Wheeling Jesuit: Cannady 8, Woody 5, Gentry 4, Kamgain 4, Ansong 4, Robinson 3, April 3, team 1. Totals 32; West Virginia Wesleyan: Todd 6, Lee 5, Petrovic 3, Vicentic 3, Brondsted 2, team 4. Totals 23.
Assists – Wheeling Jesuit: Cannady 6, Kamgain 4, Woody 4, Robinson 3, Gentry 2, Ansong 1. Totals 20; West Virginia Wesleyan: Petrovic 8, Todd 3, Brondsted 3, Vicentic 3, Flohr 2, Lee 2. Totals 21.
Steals – Wheeling Jesuit: Cannady 3, Gentry 1, Ansong 1. Totals 5; West Virginia Wesleyan: Todd 3, Petrovic 2, Brondsted 1, Flohr 1, Lee 1. Totals 8.
Blocked shots – Wheeling Jesuit: Woody 1, April 1. Total 2; West Virginia Wesleyan: None.
Personal fouls – Wheeling Jesuit: 9; West Virginia Wesleyan: 11.
Turnovers – Wheeling Jesuit: 12; West Virginia Wesleyan: 15.