South Euclid, OH. – The Mountain East Conference (MEC) season officially kicked off on Saturday as the Wheeling University Women's Basketball team (2-1, 0-1) hit the road. They battled until the end, but ended up dropping a last second game to Notre Dame College 55-51. The Cardinals defense played strong throughout the night, but the Cardinals were outscored 16-12 in the final 10 minutes leading to the conference opening loss.
The offense started the game strong as Lauren Calhoun hit a free throw and a Shanley Woods three-pointer made it a 4-0 Wheeling advantage. Wheeling extended their lead to 8-5 before the Falcons flipped the table, going on a 6-0 run to make it an 11-8 Falcon advantage. Calhoun hit a layup to break the run, but the Falcons maintained their lead at 16-12 with 1:38 left in the quarter. With their backs against the wall, the Cardinals found their groove, scoring the final five points of the quarter to take a 17-16 advantage heading into the second quarter. Calhoun hit a layup and a Bryana Henderson three-pointer was enough to get Wheeling ahead with 30 minutes remaining in the game.
Quarter two got started with the Falcons taking the lead back before Henderson continued her hot hand with a jumper that tied the score at 19-19. The Cardinals would add just one more point over the next six minutes, as the stout Falcon defense kept them at bay. Notre Dame College took advantage, scoring five points and extended their lead to 24-20 with 4:18 remaining before the half. Calhoun out up four points over the final four minutes as she brought the score 29-24 with 47 seconds remaining in the half. Kenzie Dalton finished the half with a jumper and brought the score to 29-26 as the teams broke for the locker room. With the Cardinals trailing by just three points, there was plenty of time for the team to fight their way back into the game.
Neither team got on the board for the first three minutes of the third quarter, with both teams finishing with six missed shots during the run. Shamia Strayhorn would break the stalemate with a pair of free throws and suddenly it was a 29-28 game with 7:34 left in the third. Shanley Woods gave Wheeling the lead with a layup and a Dalton three-pointer flipped the score to 33-31 with 4:57 to play. That three would start Wheeling's biggest run of the night as they scored seven straight points to extend their lead to 36-31. However, six straight Falcons points made it a 37-36 game before a three-pointer from Shanley Woods hit a three to make it a 39-37 game. Notre Dame would hit one more bucket before the quarter ended and the game was tied 39-39 with 10 minutes to go.
The Falcons would pull away to start the fourth quarter as they scored 10 straight points to lead 49-39. Calhoun hit a layup to stop the run and the Cardinals tried to fight back, getting as close as 50-45. Kenzie Dalton continued her strong day as she added three-pointer and a layup before time ran out as the Cardinals scored 12 points over the final 10 minutes. However, it wasn't enough to catch up to the Falcons as they held on for the 55-51 victory. A free throw with 11 seconds left was enough to end the day as the Cardinals fell to 0-1 in conference play and dropped their first game of the 2022-23 season.
Leading the way once again for the Cardinals was Lauren Calhoun, who finished with 17 points on the night. Although she didn't get to the 20 points make for the first time this season, she was able to finish with her third double double of the season, finishing with 14 rebounds. The other Cardinal to finish in double digits was Kenzie Dalton, who scored a career-high 11 points while picking up nine rebounds in the game. Dalton also passed the ball around throughout the night, leading the way with four assists. Wheeling now gets set to return home for the first time in 2022-23 as they bring conference action to the Alma Grace McDonoufh Center.
The Wheeling Women's Basketball team returns to action on Tuesday, November 22nd when they host Alderson Broaddus with tip-off at 5:30 PM.