Wheeling, W. Va. – Entering Saturday afternoon's contest, the Wheeling University Men's Basketball team (1-6, 0-4) had been playing in a ton of close games. That was the case once again in Buckhannon, West Virginia as the Cardinals dropped a thrilling overtime contest to West Virginia Wesleyan 89-87. The Cardinals went shot for shot with the Bobcats in the overtime period, but in the end it wasn't enough as they suffered their fourth Mountain East Conference (MEC) loss of the season.
The Bobcats got the scoring started with a layup before Wheeling took the lead with an Andrew Taylor layup and a Marcus Johnson three-pointer to give Wheeling a 5-2 lead. West Virginia Wesleyan would make it a 7-6 game, before a Brent Price three-pointer got the Wheeling lead to four just four minutes into the game. That three-pointer sparked a 6-2 run for the Cardinals that had them out in front 13-8 and a John Korte layup made it 15-8 in favor of the visitors. However, that lead wouldn't last for long as West Virginia Wesleyan put together an 8-0 run that made it 16-15 Bobcats with 12:49 remaining in the half. Neither team would score for the next minute before a pair of Korte free throws made it a 17-16 Wheeling advantage. The two teams traded buckets from there and at the halfway point of the first, Wheeling was up 19-18.
As the first half went on, the back and forth continued with neither team taking more than a four point lead at any time in the half. Kevin Coleman Jr. went 3-4 from the free throw line to make it 22-20, but just like that Wesleyan tied the game at 22-22. This back and forth continued until the score sat tied at 25-25 with 6:28 left before the break. A Bobcat jumper would make it 27-25 before the Cardinals went on their biggest run of the day at 8-2 to take a 33-29 advantage with 2:57 on the first half clock. Johnson and Price sparked the run with a pair of three pointers as the Cardinals had their biggest lead of the day to that point. A Wesleyan jumper brought it back to a two-point affair, but Korte hit a layup to give the ball back to Wheeling. The Cardinals finished the half scoring five of the final seven points and went into halftime leading 37-33.
With the Cardinals leading at halftime, the young team came out and looked to expand on that lead to start the second half. Brent Price got them started with a three-pointer and a pair of Johnson layups saw them go ahead 44-37. The Bobcats made it a four-point game at the 16:27 mark, but Korte hit a three and another Johnson layup had the Cardinals back up by seven. The Cardinal's lead would never leave single-digits in the half as every time Wheeling scored, West Virginia Wesleyan answered right back. As the half crossed the halfway mark, Wheeling was ahead 60-55 and looking to close out the win. They were able to sustain their lead for most of the half and with 3:55 to play led 74-66 after a pair of S.J. Hutchinson free throws. A short 5-0 Bobcats run made it a four-point game and two Andrew Taylor free throws pushed the score back to 76-71.
After that, the Cardinals offense went cold and West Virginia Wesleyan took advantage with a 5-0 run that tied the game at 76-76 with 1:50 remaining. Hutchinson would hit a jumper to give Wheeling the lead back, but Wesleyan responded to knot it up at 78-78. West Virginia Wesleyan would then come to the free throw line with 26 ticks left and hit both shots to take an 80-78 lead, their first of the second half. The Cardinals would have one more possession left, and they got the ball under the net to Johnson. The sophomore proceeded to make the ensuing layup with 13 seconds left and a missed jumper for the Bobcats would send the game to overtime. It was Wheeling's second overtime game of the season as the hunt was on for their first MEC win.
The extra time started with a West Virginia Wesleyan three-pointer that put Wheeling behind 83-80 from the start. Johnson got the Cardinal's scoring started with a pair of free throws and a jumper from Wesleyan put the Bobcats up 85-82 with 3:36 to go. The Cardinals were back at the free throw line as Korte made a pair of shots, but another jumper from Wesleyan kept it at a three-point game. With 1:28 showing on the clock, Korte hit one of the biggest shots of the night with a three that tied things at 87-87. The Cardinals would foul on the next possession and the Bobcats hit both shots to make it 89-87 with nine seconds to go. The Cardinals would get one more possession and once again the ball was in Johnson's hands. The sophomore put up a three, but this time it fell just short and Wheeling would end up falling 89-87.
It was a big night for John Korte, who set a new career-high with 28 points and picked up his second double-double of the season. Brent Price also finished with 20+ points on the night, finishing with 23 points and was the most efficient shooter at 80% from the floor. Marcus Johnson just missed the 20 point mark, but continued his breakout season with the Cardinals, scoring 19 points while picking up three rebounds and two assists. Trey Stoffer led the Cardinal's passing game, finishing with four assists while scoring two points on the night. For the Cardinals, it was another close battle as they drop their fifth game by nine points or less as they keep telling together and growing as a team.
The Wheeling University Men's Basketball team returns to action on Wednesday, December 7th, when they take on West Virginia State at 5:30 PM.