Wheeling, W. Va. - It was a wild one inside the Alma Grace McDonough Center on Wednesday night as Wheeling Women's Basketball (8-7, 6-3) played host to Fairmont State. The teams were separated by just one game in the Mountain East Conference (MEC) standings and that close matchup played out on the court as the teams went to overtime. The Cardinals would come out victorious and gained a game on Fairmont State with a big 92-81 win to move them to 6-3 in MEC play.
The fun started in the final minute of the game, as the Cardinals led 78-76, but Fairmont State was driving. The Falcons sent Alyssa DeAngelo to the free throw line and she hit both shots to tie the game at 78-78. Head Coach Anna Kowalska then called a timeout and advanced the ball with 20 seconds to play. The Cardinals took their shot with five seconds showing and Graci Fairman was fouled and came to the line. She ended up going 1-2 from the charity stripe and Fairmont State got the ball back with 1.5 seconds to play. The Falcons tried to draw up a play and got fouled with 0.5 seconds to go. They went 1-2 from the free throw line and tied things up at 79-79. That would send things into overtime as the Cardinals battled to pick up a big victory.
The overtime period began with a Kenzie Dalton layup and Lauren Calhoun had a three-point play to get the Cardinals started on a 5-0 run. Shanley Woods continued the run with a layup and a pair of free throws as the Cardinals took an 88-79 lead. A pair of free throws by Fairmont State got them back on the board and another Woods free throw made it an 89-81 game with 1:04 to play in the extra time. The Cardinals would finish the night from the free throw line with their final three points of the game coming from the charity stripe. Woods hit two more and Emily Holzopfel finished with the final point as Wheeling secured the 92-81 victory. They gained a game on Fairmont State with the win and sit in a tie for third in the conference standings as they head towards mid January.
The Cardinals once again passed the ball around well throughout the night, with three different players ending in double figures. Lauren Calhoun continued her strong season with a team-high 25 points, while grabbing her ninth double double of the season, finishing with 15 rebounds. Shanley Woods finished right behind Calhoun with 19 points in the game while shooting 6-10 from the free throw line. The final double digit scorer for the Cardinals was senior Taylor Cullen, who finished with a season-best 11 points on the night. She led the way with three three-pointers on the night. As a team, the Cardinals shot 47.1% from the floor and 33.3% from three-point range. They look to continue this momentum into mid-January as they continue this MEC playoff run.
Just like they did against Concord, the Cardinals offense came out strong once again in this one. After Fairmont State hit a jumper to start the evening, Jacqui Hinesmon answered with a layup and took a foul to create a three-point play. That would send the Cardinals on a 7-0 run as they pushed their lead to 7-2 at the quarter's 7:50 mark. Fairmont State caught fire of their own over the next minute and a half, and brought it to a 9-6 contest. Wheeling continued to build their lead and by the first media timeout, the score sat at 16-8. However, Fairmont State battled back once again, finishing the quarter on an 11-4 run. The Cardinals early offense was just enough to keep the lead as they led 20-17 after one.
Wheeling continued their high scoring offense in the second quarter, putting up 19 in the quarter and went into halftime up 39-31. The third quarter was the Cardinal's highest scoring quarter of the night, putting up 24 points during the 10 minute stretch. Jacqui Hinesmon broke out in the third quarter, putting up four of the first six points of the quarter as Wheeling made it a 43-35 game. Those accounted for four of her seven points on the night as she flirted with a double double. The Cardinals would end up leading 63-50 after three, but Fairmont State wasn't done. They had their best quarter of the night, putting up 29 points and setting up the game's dramatic finish.
The Wheeling University Women's Basketball team returns to action on Saturday, January 14th, when they travel to Frostburg State with tip-off at 2 PM.