WISE (Va.) – The West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats’ hot play and two-game winning streak came to an unexpected and abrupt end here Wednesday night at the hands of the five-win UVa.-Wise Cavaliers in a Mountain East Conference clash.
The ‘Cats dropped an 85-79 decision.
Wesleyan did a lot right in the contest including shooting 50 percent, making 18 three-pointers, shooting better than 50 percent from beyond the three-point arc and passing the ball well with 24 assists on 29 made field goals.
But it was the little things that Wesleyan didn’t do that had head coach Jack Meriwether upset after the loss.
“We hit 18 3-pointers and lose because we don’t want to do the little things like put our hand up and communicate on the floor,” remarked Meriwether. “When we ran our offense and stayed patient, we pretty much got open shots and did what we wanted. Unfortunately that level of success made some of our guys too comfortable and too often we broke things off and failed trying to make selfish plays.”
Defensively, it was a rough night for Wesleyan as UVa.-Wise shot 60.8 percent from the floor hitting on 31 of their 51 field goal attempts and made 52 percent (13-for-25) from behind the three-point arc.
Meriwether clearly was not pleased with the defensive effort of his Bobcats in this game.
“I have said this before, but winning in college basketball is a very fragile thing. You have to have things go right and you have to come to play at a high level to walk out of any gym with a win. Our veteran players absolutely disrespected the game of basketball with their defensive discipline and effort in this game and I think the result just reaffirms that. With this group of players in their career, they continue to believe there are nights they can just show up and win and that really speaks to our immaturity and lack of understanding what real high-level basketball is about. Hopefully we grow up in a hurry or this will be yet another season in their career filled with regret.”
The two teams traded the lead back and forth in the first six minutes of the game as it was tied at 16-16.
Edward Flohr knocked down a trey at the 13:45 mark to give Wesleyan a 19-16 lead and Fred Brondsted fired from long range to push the Wesleyan lead to 31-26 with 10:20 left in the half.
With Wesleyan leading 33-27, UVa-Wise went on a 15-0 run to grab a 42-33 lead with 3:55 remaining in the opening half.
Vicentic ended the run with a jumper and then scored a lay-up to close the gap to five, at 42-37 with 1:41 remaining.
Following a UVa.-Wise basket, Wesleyan closed the half on a 5-0 run behind a lay-up by Jalen Melvin and a 3-pointer from Luka Petrovic to make it a 44-42 contest heading into the second half.
Adam Horton quickly gave Wesleyan the lead with a trey to make it a 45-44 game but again the ‘Cats gave up a big run to the Cavaliers.
UVa.-Wise scored 12 unanswered to grab a 56-45 advantage with 3:07 gone in the second half.
Melvin poured in a 3-pointer, Clay Todd scored on a fast break lay-up and tossed in a trey as Wesleyan answered with a 8-0 run to cut the Cavalier deficit to three, at 56-53.
UVa.-Wise ran the lead back to seven, at 62-55, but Wesleyan deadlocked the game at 64-64 and took the lead on a Horton 3-pointer, at 67-66, with 9:44 remaining.
That trey started an 11-0 run that was capped by a Vicentic trey that treated Wesleyan to a 75-66 lead with 6:41 left.
It took UVa.-Wise three minutes to erase the Wesleyan lead as they went on a 9-0 run to deadlock the game at 75-75 with 3:36 remaining.
Horton flipped a free throw to give Wesleyan a 76-75 advantage but it was the last lead Wesleyan would hold.
UVa-Wise hit consecutive 3-pointers to take an 81-75 lead, but a Todd trey cut it to 81-79 with 2:07 left.
Wesleyan didn’t score in the final two minutes as the Cavaliers pulled away with a six-point win.
“UVa.-Wise deserves a tremendous amount of credit as they have been down some players,” stated Meriwether. “They had a great offensive game plan and didn’t deviate from it once the entire game. They were as disciplined to their plan as any team we have faced this year.”
Vicentic led the Bobcats with 21 points while Todd had 15 and Flohr eight.
“I thought Horton, Flohr and Kenny Lewis Jr. gave us great minutes and I should have played Kenny more,” explained Meriwether. “All three of those guys brought energy and were aggressive and disciplined.”
Briggs Parris led UVa.-Wise with 22 points.
UVa.-Wise improved to 6-12 overall and 4-9 in the MEC.
Wesleyan dropped to 8-11 overall and 5-8 in the MEC.
Wesleyan will return to the court this Saturday when they host Concord in a league game at 4 p.m.
West Virginia Wesleyan 42 37 – 79
UVa.-Wise 44 41 – 85
West Virginia Wesleyan 79
Dusan Vicentic 9-15 0-0 21, Clay Todd 6-11 0-0 15, Fred Brondsted 3-7 0-0 9, Luka Petrovic 3-7 0-0 8, Adam Horton 2-4 1-2 7, Edward Flohr 3-5 2-2 11, Jalen Melvin 2-5 0-0 5, Daylin Lee 1-4 0-0 3, Braeden McGrew 0-0 0-0 0, Kenny Lewis Jr. 0-1 0-0 0, Marcu Larsson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-59 3-4 79.
Briggs Parris 7-13 2-2 22, Eric Okenchi 7-10 2-2 16, Cameron Whiteside 6-7 0-0 15, Kaeleb Carter 5-11 2-2 14, Rahji Langford 2-2 2-3 7, Jordan Pointer 3-4 0-0 6, Jordan Twyman 1-3 0-0 3, Josh Thomas 0-1 2-2 2. Totals 31-51 10-11 85.
Three-point field goals – West Virginia Wesleyan: Florh 3-4, Vicentic 3-6, Brondsted 3-6, Todd 3-7, Petrovic 2-5, Horton 2-3, Melvin 1-1, Lee 1-2. Totals 18-35; UVa.-Wise: Parris 6-12, Whiteside 3-4, Carter 2-5, Langford 1-1, Twyman 1-3. Totals 13-25.
Rebounds – West Virginia Wesleyan: Brondsted 4, Horton 4, Vicentic 3, Melvin 2, Todd 1, Petrovic. 1, Lee 1, team 5. Totals 21; UVa.-Wise: Okenchi 7, Whiteside 6, Carter 5, Twyman 3, Parris 2, Langford 2, Thomas 1, team 4. Totals 30.
Assists – West Virginia Wesleyan: Petrovic 7, Brondsted 6, Todd 3, Vicentic 2, Flohr 2, McGrew 2, Horton 1, Melvin 1. Totals 24; UVa.-Wise: Langford 7, Parris 4, Carter 3, Twyman 3, Whiteside 2, Thomas 1. Totals 20.
Steals – West Virginia Wesleyan: Vicentic 2, Horton 2, Todd 1, Flohr 1, Petrovic 1. Totals 7; UVa.-Wise: Whiteside 3, Okenchi 2, Carter 2. Totals 7.
Blocked shots – West Virginia Wesleyan: Vicentic 1, Horton 1, Lee 1. Totals 3; UVa.-Wise: Carter 2, Langford 1. Totals 3.
Personal fouls – West Virginia Wesleyan: 14; UVa.-Wise: 7.
Turnovers – West Virginia Wesleyan: 12; UVa.-Wise: 14.