Wheeling, W. Va. – The Wheeling University Women's Basketball team (11-8, 9-4) wrapped up their three game home stand on Wednesday when they hosted West Virginia Wesleyan. It was a close battle throughout, but in the end the Cardinals would fall to the Bobcats 58-55. The loss dropped the Cardinals to 9-4 in Mountain East Conference (MEC) as they get ready to head out on the road.
The game began with that potent Wheeling defense that has shown up early as of late, with the Cardinals held the Bobcats off the board for the first two and a half minutes of play. Meanwhile, a Lauren Calhoun bucket and free throw had put the Cardinals up 3-0 during the run. Shanley Woods would add a three-pointer after the first Bobcat bucket of the night and a Calhoun layup gave Wheeling a 10-4 advantage by the first media timeout. However, the next two minutes would see the Bobcats battle back on a 6-3 run that made it a three-point game. Graci Fairman subbed in off the bench and hit a jumper to break the run and by quarter's end, the Cardinals were out to an 18-12 lead. They scored the final three points of the quarter and looked to ride the momentum into the second quarter.
However, West Virginia Wesleyan had other ideas allowing just one Wheeling free throw to go in a 7-1 run that tied the game at 19-19. A Calhoun free throw gave Wheeling the lead again for a brief moment, but the Bobcat's got a pair of free throws from Electra Albert and took their first lead of the night. West Virginia Wesleyan added seven more points to their tally and took the biggest lead by either team to that point at 27-20. Taylor Cullen would get the Cardinals back on track with a free throw as Wheeling looked to rebound. Shamia Strayhorn and Woods each hit a bucket over the last two minutes to get the offense going again but there couldn't catch up to the Bobcats. The teams broke for the locker room with West Virginia Wesleyan leading 31-25.
The Cardinals needed to come out strong in the second half, and they got off to a hot start with a Jacqui Hinesmon free throw. She added a layup a minute later and the Cardinals defense held up as the Cardinals cut into the Bobcats lead 31-28. Five straight Bobcats points pushed the lead back to 35-28 before the Cardinals got started again. Kenzie Dalton hit a layup to get it back to a five-point game and a three-point play by Fairman made it a two-point affair ar 35-33. The back and forth continued throughout the quarter with neither team holding more than a four-point lead. West Virginia Wesleyan held that advantage at 40-36 with 1:38 to go in the quarter, but Wheeling would quickly erase that lead. Calhoun and Hinesmon each hit layups to close out the quarter and it was a two-point game heading into the final 10 minutes of play.
Calhoun was at it again, tying the game with a layup to start the quarter, but five straight Bobcats points made it a 47-42 game. A Strayhorn free throw flipped the script as Wheeling tied the game on a 5-0 run of their own. It remained either a 1.4 tied game down to the final two minutes as the score sat tied at 53-53. Hinesmon Hit a lay up to put the Cardinals back in front, but a West Virginia Wesleyan three from Shelby Genes gave the Bobcats a 56-55 lead. The Cardinals were looking for one more shot to get the game back to even, but they were unable to find it not scoring for the rest of the game. West Virginia Wesleyan hit their final two free throws of the game with 13 seconds left to seal the deal as the Cardinals fell 58-55.
Senior Lauren Calhoun continued her strong season for the Cardinals, grabbing her 12th double double of the season. She led the way with 15 points and 10 rebounds as she battles for the conference rebounding title. The other double digit scorer for the Cardinals was Jacqui Hinesmon, who added 10 points on the night. Kenzie Dalton led the passing game with six assists, while racking up five points and four rebounds. The loss broke a five-game winning streak for the Cardinals as they now head back on the road looking to get momentum back on their side as the head into February.
The Wheeling University Women's Basketball team returns to action on Saturday, January 28th, when they take on Davis & Elkins with tip-off at 2 PM.