Wheeling, W. Va. – The Wheeling University Men's Basketball team (2-13, 0-9) began a big stretch of home games on Wednesday night when they hosted Fairmont State. The Cardinals fought hard throughout the night, but in the end fell 106-85. It was a career night for senior John Korte, but it wasn't enough to get the Cardinals their first conference win of the season.
Korte accounted for a little less than half of his team's total scoring on the night, putting up 30 points. It was the first time in his collegiate career that the senior reached the 30-point mark, bearing his previous career-best mark by two points. He rounded out his day in a three-way tie for the team lead with five rebounds as he put together one of his best nights of the season. Another Cardinal who had a career best day was freshman Kevin Coleman Jr., who provided a spark off the bench. He finished with 12 points on the night and also finished with five rebounds. The other Cardinal to finish in double figures was senior Brent Price, who also finished with 12 points to round out the evening. As a team, the Cardinals shot well from the floor, hitting 43% of their shots, but just fell short of the high powered Falcons offense.
It took a few possessions to get the offense going on the night, but a Korte free throw got us our first points of the night at the 18:52 mark. After a Zion Dobbs layup for the Falcons, Marcus Johnson would hit a free throw to make it a 3-2 Cardinals advantage. This back and forth nature was the mantra of the early point of the first half as no team held more than a four-point lead over the first five minutes. The Cardinals tied the game at 5-5 on a Korte jumper, and trailed just 13-9 as we hit the first media timeout. Coleman Jr. would make it a two-point game with a layup, and a pair of Korte free throws kept it their at 15-13 with 13:06 left in the first half. Coleman Jr. was at it again with another layup to tie it at 15-15, but a 6-2 Fairmont State run made it a 21-17 game as the first ten minutes ticked away.
The Cardinals continued to battle throughout the half, and a minute later William Gabbert made it a two-point game with a layup that brought the score to 23-21. A 6-0 Fairmont State run added to the Cardinals deficit, before George Taylor III got Wheeling back on the board with his first three-pointer of the night. Price would hit a layup a few minutes later and another layup from John Korte would make it a 35-30 game at the final first half media timeout. The Cardinals would once again be looking for a comeback and would do just that with a 5-2 run. Korte ended the run with a three-poinyer followed by a layup that made it 37-35 with 2:44 left in the half. The Falcons ended the half on a 9-2 run and ended up going into the halftime leading 46-37.
Korte had 18 or his team's 37 first half points and was looking to continue that success into the second half. Marcus Johnson, who had to sit out because of foul trouble in the first half, hit a layup to start the half before Korte got started again. He hit a pair of free throws to start it off and rolled on a 6-0 run by himself that made it a 57-45 game with 6:16 to play. Taylor followed that up with his second three of the game and brought the deficit to 12. Zion Suddeth would hit a layup to cut that deficit to 10, before another Fairmont State run opened things up again. They put up six straight points and by the 10 minute mark of the second half, the Cardinals trailed 76-58.
Over the final 10 minutes of play, Head Coach Chris Richardson got to get some of his younger guys on the court to gain valuable experience. Caleb Murray was the first to check in at the 7:13 mark, and others would soon follow with Trevor Beresford, Ryan Reasbeck, and Raef Wykes all seeing action in the game. Reasbeck took advantage, putting up eight points during that final quarter of play, while Trevor Beresford got on the board for the third game in a row that he had participated in. Murray didn't get on the board, but picked up an assist and a rebound on the night, while Wykes added a rebound of his own to cap things off. In the end, the Cardinals fell 106-85, but showed heart throughout the night.
The Wheeling University Men's Basketball team returns to action on Saturday, January 14th, when they hit the road to face Frostburg State with tip-off scheduled for 4 PM.