40-point Second Half Not Enough to Lift Wheeling Over West Virginia State
Institute, W. Va. – The Wheeling University Men's Basketball team (7-15, 6-10) played one of just three February road games on Saturday when they took on West Virginia State. They had a lead early, but 40 second-half points were not enough as they fell to the Yellow Jackets 76-71. The Cardinals drop to 6-10 in Mountain East Conference (MEC) play as the push for the MEC playoffs is on.
Early on, both teams were trying to get things going, but neither could seem to find their shot. It took two and a half minutes before either team got on the board as senior Jarett Haines hit a three-pointer to put the Cardinals out in front 3-0. Haines would end up scoring the first six points for his team, and the Cardinals wouldn't allow a point until the 16:23 mark of the first half. With Wheeling up 6-9, the Yellow Jackets would hit back-to-back shots and quickly cut that lead to 6-5. Haines was at it again with another bucket to make it 8-5, but West Virginia State would take their first lead of the day with a 7-1 run that made it 12-9. The teams would exchange the lead one more time each, and Wheeling trailed 15-13 as the clock ticked past 10 minutes.
Senior Jordan Beale hit a three-pointer off the bench to get Wheeling back out in front, but the lead was short-lived as West Virginia State put together a 6-3 run to go ahead 21-16 with just under seven minutes left before halftime. As the clock ticked on, Wheeling kept trying to overtake the Ellie Jackets for good but was unable to do it, trailing 25-24 with 3:50 left in the first half. Haines would hit a three-pointer to give Wheeling the lead, and he was joined by fellow seniors Jordan Reid and Jay Gentry as Wheeling outscored West Virginia State 7-4 over those final three minutes. Wheeling went into halftime up 31-29 and was looking to come out with as much intensity in the second half.
Things started out well for the Cardinals in the second half as they scored six of the first eight points. Andrew Taylor started things with a layup and Haines and John Korte each added a bucket to extend Wheeling's lead to 38-31. They built their lead as high as 40-32 in the early going of the second half and had their biggest lead of the day with 17:35 remaining in the game. However, the Yellow Jackets would begin to slowly chip away at the Wheeling lead, making it a three-point game by the 15-minute mark. Gentry would come back with a pair of three-pointers and got Wheeling back to a 10-point lead. The Cardinals maintained the advantage and led by seven points as we were primed for an exciting final 10 minutes of play.
West Virginia State got hot as the clock moved past the 10-minute mark, and tied the score at 56-56 with 7:29 to play. State's Ernest Jenkins hit a three-pointer to give the Yellow Jackets the 59-56 advantage, but another three from Gentry would even the score again. The decisive blow in this one came next when the Yellow Jackets went on an 11-4 run over the next six minutes that brought the score to 70-63 with three minutes to play. Wheeling would outscore West Virginia State 8-6 over those final three minutes, but the damage had already been done as Wheeling could never catch up. The game would end with the Yellow Jackets winning 76-71, handing Wheeling their 10th conference loss of the season.
After a couple of games dealing with injuries, Jarett Haines was back to his normal self on Saturday leading the offense with 24 points. He shot 50% from both the floor and beyond the arc, and made three of his five free throws attempted on the day. Jay Gentry (17) and Jordan Reid (12) rounded out Wheeling's double-digit scorers. Reid and John Korte led the defense with six rebounds each and Reid also led the passing game with three assists. All. but one Cardinal who entered the game scored at least two points, as the Cardinals battled against one of the top teams in the MEC. They are now 6-10 in conference play as they continue the push for the MEC playoffs.
The Wheeling University Men's Basketball team is back in action on Wednesday, February 9th, when they host Concord at 7:30 pm.