BUCKHANNON – The West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats held on for an important Mountain East Conference victory here Saturday evening against the Concord Mountain Lions in a 66-65 victory.
Wesleyan was nursing a 64-61 lead with 90 seconds left when Dusan Vicentic flipped in a pair of free throws with 1:18 left in the game to give Wesleyan a 66-61 advantage.
Concord’s Trey Brisco knocked down a jumper with a minute remaining to make it a 66-63 contest.
Wesleyan turned the ball over on their next possession on a steal by Jair Rodgers and Rodgers went into the paint for a lay-up to make it a 66-65 game with 39 seconds remaining.
Wesleyan worked the game clock down to 11 seconds when Daylin Lee put up a missed 3-pointer, but Rodgers was off the mark with his go-ahead trey at the buzzer as Luka Petrovic secured the win with the rebound.
It was a quality win for the ‘Cats as Concord entered the game third in the MEC standings with a 14-5 record.
It also moved Wesleyan into a seventh-place tie in the MEC standings as they inch closer to a spot in the MEC Tournament that begins in four weeks. The MEC takes the top 10 in the standings to the post-season tournament.
The Bobcat defense, which was much-maligned in their previous game with UVa.-Wise, played much better as they held Concord to a 38.3 shooting night from the floor and a just 25.0 percent from beyond the three-point stripe.
“I am incredibly proud of the maturity we showed on the defensive end against Concord,” remarked Wesleyan head coach Jack Meriwether. “Concord is one of the more challenging teams to guard in the entire country. Rodgers and Tommy Bolte are possibly the toughest scoring duo anywhere at our level, but our guys stayed really disciplined in our zone and when we do that I think we are tough to score on.”
The biggest lead either team could get in the first eight minutes of the game was three-points, which Wesleyan did on three different occasions.
With Wesleyan leading 20-17, Vicentic popped in a jumper and Braeden McGrew uncorked a 3-pointer as the Bobcats went up by eight, at 25-17, at the 10:19 mark.
Concord managed a 10-0 run to grab a 27-25 lead with 7:24 remaining in the half.
The two teams exchanged the lead several times the rest first of the half as Concord went into halftime up by a 37-34 score.
Wesleyan came out and scored the first five points of the second half as Adam Horton dialed up a long distance 3-pointer and Vicentic dashed inside for a lay-up as the Bobcats retook the lead at 39-37.
A free throw by Bolte gave Concord a 43-42 lead with 15:24 left, but it was the last lead they would hold in the game.
Wesleyan maintained the lead the rest of the game but could never pull away from the Mt. Lions as five points was the biggest advantage they could reach.
Brondsted fired in a trey to keep Wesleyan ahead by five, at 60-55, with 7:24 left, but Concord scored the next four to make it a one-point game, at 60-59.
A pair of Vicentic free throws and a lay-up by Lee pushed the Wesleyan lead back to five, at 64-59, with three minutes remaining before holding on for the win.
Wesleyan shot just under the 50 percent mark making good on 26 of their 53 attempts for a 49.1 shooting percentage.
Vicentic led Wesleyan’s offense with 22 points. He was the only player in double digits.
Lee added nine points while Horton scored eight.
“I thought we cut hard and ran great offense getting set-to- set, but in the second half we were having a hard time getting some of the good looks we were getting to fall,” said Meriwether. “Fortunately, we really buckled down defensively and were able to hold our lead by running them off of the three-point line and finishing possessions.”
Marcus Larsson provided a spark for the ‘Cats in his short time in the game, providing four rebounds in just seven minutes of action.
“Larsson gave us huge minutes defensively down the stretch,” Meriwether said.
The Bobcats improved to 9-11 overall and 6-8 in the MEC.
They will return to action this Thursday when they host Charleston at 7:30 p.m.
The ‘Cats will take to the road Saturday for another league game against West Virginia State that will tip at 4 pm.
“The challenge for us is being mature enough to stay disciplined like we need to night-in and night-out so hopefully we can carry that focus into our games this week with Charleston and West Virginia State,” concluded Meriwether.
Concord 37 28 – 65
West Virginia Wesleyan 34 32 – 66
Jair Rodgers 7-15 5-5 24, Tommy Bolte 6-21 5-5 17, Simun Kovac 5-8 1-2 11, Trey Brisco 1-2 0-0 2, David Mulumba 0-4 0-0 0, Malik Johnson 4-9 3-3 11, Jafar Musa 0-0 0-0 0, Brandon Kennedy 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-60 14-15 65.
West Virginia Wesleyan 66
Dusan Vicentic 8-11 4-4 22, Adam Horton 3-5 1-2 8, Clay Todd 3-8 0-0 7, Luka Petrovic 2-8 0-0 6, Fred Brondsted 2-5 0-0 5, Daylin Lee 4-9 0-0 9, Edward Flohr 2-2 0-0 4, Braeden McGrew 1-1 0-0 3, Jalen Melvin 1-3 0-0 2, Marcus Larsson 0-1 0-0 0, Kenny Lewis Jr. 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-53 5-6 66.
Three-point field goals – Concord: Rodgers 5-12, Kennedy 0-1 Johnson 0-2, Mulumba 0-2, Bolte 0-3. Totals 5-20; West Virginia Wesleyan: Vicentic 2-4, Petrovic 2-5, McGrew 1-1, Horton 1-2, Brondsted 1-4, Lee 1-4, Todd 1-5, Larsson 0-1, Melvin 0-1. Totals 9-27.
Rebounds – Concord: Kovac 11, Bolte 7, Johnson 7, Brisco 4, Mulumba 3, Rodgers 2, Musa 1, team 1. Totals 36; West Virginia Wesleyan: Vicentic 5, Horton 5, Lee 4, Larsson 4, Petrovic 3, Melvin 3, Todd 1, Brondsted 1, team 1. Totals 27.
Assists – Concord: Bolte 4, Johnson 2, Rodgers 1, Brisco 1, Mulumba 1, Musa 1. Totals 10; West Virginia Wesleyan: Todd 4, Petrovic 4, Brondsted 3, Vicentic 2, Horton 2, Melvin 2, McGrew 1. Totals 18.
Steals – Concord: Rodgers 2, Bolte 1, Johnson 1; Totals 4; West Virginia Wesleyan: Vicentic 2, Todd 1, Petrovic 1. Totals 4.
Blocked shots – Concord: Kovac 1, Brisco 1. Totals 2; West Virginia Wesleyan: Vicentic 2. Totals 2.
Personal fouls – Concord: 9; West Virginia Wesleyan: 14.
Turnovers – Concord: 7; West Virginia Wesleyan: 7.