Clutch Free Throws Lead Wheeling to Win Over Concord
Wheeling, W. Va. – It was a wild night inside the Alma Grace McDonough Center as the Wheeling Men's Basketball team (8-15, 7-10) hosted Concord. It came down to the final seconds of the game, but the Cardinals would be clutch from the free-throw line as they pulled off an 82-80 victory. It was a big win for the Cardinals as they make a push for the Mountain East Conference (MEC) first-round bye.
It all came down to the game's final minute as the two teams were deadlocked for most of the second half. Wheeling entered that final minute of the game with a 79-78 lead and held that advantage as the clock ticked down to the :30 mark. Jarett Haines would get fouled and came to the free-throw line, he went 1-2 from the line and gave Wheeling an 80-78 advantage. Concord would go down the court and drew a foul sending Matt Weir to the line. Weir would knock down his two free throws and the game was tied at 80-80. With the ball in their hand and three seconds to play, Haines went up for a game-winning layup and drew a foul that would bring him to the line. This time Haines would not be denied as he made both shots and clinched the Cardinal's 82-80 victory.
Haines had a big night overall for the Cardinals had a strong offensive night with four players finishing in double-digits. Haines led the way scoring 28 points while grabbing five rebounds and three assists. It was the second straight game where Haynes eclipsed the 20-point mark as he continues to lead his team down the stretch. John Korte finished the day with 16 points and led the defense with eight rebounds. Brent price and Andrew Taylor each added double-digit efforts scoring 15 and 13 points respectively. Coming into the game Wheeling knew they were going to be without their top scorer Jordan Reed and they had several guys Step Up to fill his shoes. On the defensive side of the ball, Korte and Taylor had big games under the net grabbing rebounds and scoring points for their team.
It was Korte who would get the night started for the Cardinals with a layup that put his team ahead 2-0. In contrary to what the final score said, it was a very defensive-minded game from the get-go with the two teams combining for just 12 points over the first five minutes of play. The score sat deadlocked at 11-11 as the clock ticked past the 14:35 mark in the first half and the teams were trading shots. After the score changed hands twice, Wheeling would get a layup from Taylor and a jumper from Haines that had them out to the biggest lead of the game to that point 17-14. It was a small run, but it had Wheeling ahead 20-18 with half of the first glad in the rearview mirror.
Concord would retake the lead with nine minutes left in the first half on a Brannon Kennedy three-pointer, but Wheeling would take that lead right back. Haines made a layup and Price hit a there that had Wheeling ahead 25-21. This would end up being the lead that Wheeling would hold for the rest of the first half. The Mountain Lions would get to within one a few times, but Wheeling headed to the locker room up 42-36. As the Wheeling Rugby team was honored on the court at halftime, Wheeling was trying to make adjustments to stay ahead. They shot an impressive 40 % from the floor in the first half and would have to be even better in the second half to hold the lead.
As the second half began, Concord was the team firing on all cylinders as they fought to even the score at 44-44. However, Wheeling responded with six straight points that made it 50-44. Then take would be tied up once again with 14 minutes to play at 54-54 and Concord would take their first lead since the first half. The Mountain Lions went ahead 60-56, but once again Wheeling would battle back and tie the game at 60-60. The game would come tied four more times leading up to the final minute with both teams hitting their shots throughout the night. However, it was Wheeling that would hold in for the win. They now improve to 8-15 overall and 7-10 in conference play and enter Saturday with a chance to move as high as #6 in the conference.
The Wheeling University Men's Basketball team is back in action on Saturday, February 12th when they hit the road to face Glenville State at 3 pm.