SALEM — The West Virginia Wesleyan College men’s basketball team (1-10) traveled to the T. Edward Davis Gymnasium to battle Salem (7-4) in a non-conference contest this past Monday. The Bobcats entered the game looking to end their losing streak on the road against a tough opponent in the Tigers.
Sharpshooting redshirt freshman guard Shawn Moran showed why he is approaching the 40% mark from distance on the season by opening the game with a three from the right corner to score the game’s first points. The Bobcats would fall behind early, before true freshman Tyler Sloane hit two threes within a minute to tie the game at 19 all. It appeared that a Bobcats’ run, fueled by Slone and redshirt freshman Jayden Hibbett, in the waning minutes of the opening half would allow them to take the lead going into halftime, until the Tigers responded with a 13-4 run of their own to end the first half half. The Bobcats’ found themselves down, but not out going into the locker-room down 5, 39-34.
The Tigers started the second half with a massive 18-7 run to get out to a 15-point lead. The Bobcats’ rallied, putting together an impressive 10-4 run that pulled the game back within striking distance. Wesleyan cut the Tigers’ lead to 4, with a bucket by Hibbett, but that is as close as the game got down the stretch. Salem pulled away in the end, winning by a final score of 85-75.
Slone paced the Bobcats offensively, hitting all four of his three-point shot attempts on the night. To go along with his efficient shooting night, Slone proved to be a presence on the glass, pulling down 6 total rebounds. Hibbitt narrowly missed his 20.3 point per game average on the season, by scoring 18 points, while pulling down 7 rebounds.
As has been the story for many of the Bobcats’ losses spanning their early season struggles, they struggled to contain opposing offenses, allowing two Tigers to reach 20-plus points. Fonz Hale led all scorers by netting 28 points on the night. Hale displayed his versatility as both a three-level offensive threat and playmaker, dishing out 4 assists and pulling down 4 rebounds. Barron Tanner scored all 24 of his points from behind the arc, going 6 for 9 from three and stretching the Bobcats’ defense razor thin, opening the floor for Hale and others to attack the rim. In all this young Bobcats team has seen several of their young players show promise offensively, but defensively they are still getting acclimated to a new level of competition.
This game marked the Bobcats’ last action before taking a break for the holiday season. WVWC next takes the court on New Year’s Day, again against this Salem Tigers’ team, at home. Tip-off is slated for 4 pm.