Late Battle Not Enough as Wheeling Drops New Year's Eve Bash to Gannon
Wheeling, W. Va. - The Wheeling University Women's Basketball team (2-8, 2-4) wrapped up 2021 on Friday when they hosted Gannon University in a New Year's Eve Battle. There were fireworks late in the game, but the Cardinals didn't have enough bang to bring the New Year in with a win, falling 66-53.
Over the first five minutes of the first quarter, Wheeling was neck and neck with the #2 team in the Atlantic Region and was getting shots off. JuniorLauren Calhounand freshmanShamia Strayhorneach made buckets in the first three minutes of the game, and with seven minutes left on the first-quarter clock, Wheeling was down 5-4. The defense took over for the next two minutes as both teams traded missed baskets trying to get into their groove. SophomoreShanley Woods got the scoring restarted with 5:25 left in the quarter, and Wheeling held their first lead of the day at 6-5. They would hold that lead for only a minute longer before the Golden Knights got going.
They went on a 10-4 run over the final five minutes of the first quarter, and with 10 minutes in the book, Wheeling trailed 15-10. As play moved to the second quarter, Wheeling once again got the scoring started on a Calhoun layup that got the score to within three. That is as close as Wheeling would get in the second quarter as another 11-0 run for the Knights opened the scoring and made the deficit 26-12. Wheeling's defense would play a big role over the final five minutes of the quarter, allowing just four points, but the offense couldn't find the net and Wheeling went into the break trailing 30-15.
The Cardinals were getting shots up, the problem was they weren't falling throughout the night as they shot just 20% from the floor in the first half. They showed they could compete with one of the top teams in the country early in the game, and we're looking to keep that fight going as the game moved to the second half. They would find that fight as they began to battle back, scoring 19 points in the quarter. They got the scoring started when Calhoun hit a layup that brought the score to 30-17. However, Gannon scored the next nine points and made it 39-17 with 6:24 to play, the largest lead by the Golden Knights to that point. The winds of change started to blow when Alysa Edwards-Frickhit a layup at the four and a half minute mark of the quarter, and the Cardinals battled back to make it 49-34 by quarter's end.
The offense would continue to find success in the fourth quarter, putting up 17 more points, and they were fueled by freshman Annie Hunt. Hunt hit a three to start the final quarter, her second three of the day, and secured the fact that Wheeling scored first in all four quarters. The Cardinals brought the score to within single digits with seven minutes showing on the clock. That single-digit deficit would remain as the team's went score for score with each other, and the Cardinals got to within eight when Taylor Cullen made back-to-back free throws with 3:39 to play. However, the Golden Knights were able to run out the clock, and a three-pointer by Lickliteras time ticked away brought the game to its final score of 66-53.
Calhoun led the offensive effort for the Cardinals throughout the night and was the only one to end the game in double digits with 11 points. However, the Cardinals bench came up big throughout the day. JuniorMaura Castelluciput up eight points and Hunt set a new career-high with an eight-point effort, including two three-pointers, in the game. Calhoun just missed her fifth double-double of the year, finishing with seven rebounds, and freshman Shania Strayhornadded four assists in the effort. Wheeling now drops to 2-8 on the season and heads into 2022 with Mountain East Conference play on their minds.
The Wheeling Women's Basketball team is back in action on Wednesday, January 5th, when they host Glenville State with tip-off scheduled for 5:30 pm.