Women’s Basketball Clinches Playoff Spot, Falls to Charleston 86-72

Charleston, W. Va. – The Wheeling University Women's Basketball team (12-9, 10-5) kicked off the month of February on Wednesday when they traveled down to Charleston, West Virginia. The offense battled throughout the night, with two 20+ point quarters, but it wasn't enough as they fell 86-72. However, because both Frostburg State and Alderson Broaddus fell in their games, the Cardinals have clinched a spot in the Mountain East Conference (MEC) Tournament for the third straight season.

It was the Cardinal's offense that got the night started as Jacqui Hinesmon hit a layup to make it a 2-0 Cardinal advantage. That would begin a back and forth that lasted the first four minutes of the game, and saw the team's all tied up at 9-9. After two minutes of neither team getting on the board, Charleston's Dakota Reeves hit a three-pointer to give them an 11-9 advantage with 4:46 to play in the first. They hit another three-pointer a minute later and extended their lead to 18-11 with 2:38 to play. Shanley Woods would get her team back in it with a three-pointer that brought the score back to 18-14. Woods would hit three more free throws to put her at six points for the run as Wheeling made it a three-point game. They would trail by that same three-point deficit, as they trailed 22-19 after one. 

The teams would trade the first four points of the second quarter, but Charleston would continue to push their lead forward with a 6-2 run. Fatima Mohammad would come off the bench and give the run a quick halt with a three-pointer, but Charleston's Markyia McCormick would answer with a three of her own that made it a 31-24 game. The Cardinals would battle back to make it a seven-point game, but the Golden Eagles offense went off again on a 5-0 run that extended their lead to 40-28. The final 30 seconds of the first half saw the Cardinals trailing by 10 at 46-36 as looking to cut into the Golden Eagles lead. They would come to the foul line twice during that time and Kenzie Dalton and Graci Fairman each hit shots to go 4-4 from the line. The Cardinals went into the half trailing 49-40 and were trying to build off a 21-point quarter.

However, it would be the Cardinal's defense that would be the stars coming out of the break, not allowing the Golden Eagles on the board for the first four minutes of the quarter. The Cardinals would score five unanswered points during the run and made it a 49-45 game with 6:53 to go in the third. Wheeling was able to keep it a four-point game for the next minute before Shamia Strayhorn helped her team creep closer. She hit a layup with 3:56 left in the quarter and, just like that, it was a 55-53 game. She would be fouled on the play and added a free throw to complete the three-point play and the Cardinals were within one point. However, Charleston's offense rebounded, outscoring the Cardinals 12-7 over the final 3:56 of the quarter and Charleston led 67-60 heading into the final 10 minutes of play.

A pair of free throws for the Cardinals would start the quarter, but a Charleston three would follow and bring the score to 72-64 in favor of the Golden Eagles. Charleston would continue their offensive push, going on an 10-2 run that pushed the score to 83-68 with 3:04 to play. Strayhorn hit a free throw to shutdown that Golden Eagles run, but three more free throws for Charleston pushed their advantage to 86-69. The Cardinals would end the game with three free throws, one from Bryana Henderson, and one from Calhoun. However, it wasn't enough to complete the comeback as the Cardinals would take their fifth conference loss 86-72. It was the team's fourth road loss this season, as they prepare to come back home this weekend.

Leading the way for Wheeling was Lauren Calhoun, who was at it again with her 14th double double of the season. She led the offense with 20 points and led the defensive effort with 11 rebounds. She now enters the top 20 all-time in scoring for the Cardinals, with 1,075 career points. Shamia Strayhorn continued her offensive success in the 2023 portion of the schedule, putting up 16 points , including a 4-7 mark from the free throw line. Shanley Woods rounded out the Cardinal's double figure scorers in the game, finishing with 13 points on the night. Kenzie Dalton and Jacqui Hinesmon led the passing game, finishing with two assists each. Now with a playoff spot officially locked up, the Cardinals will now focus on seeding as they try to get as high of a seed as possible heading into WesBanco Arena.

The Wheeling University Women's Basketball team returns to action on Saturday, February 4th, when they host West Virginia State with tip-off at 2 PM.

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