Wheeling, W. Va. - With a playoff spot already clinched, the Wheeling University Women's Basketball team (12-9, 10-6) entered Saturday looking to build on their conference seeding. They would get into an overtime battle with West Virginia State inside the Alma Grace McDonough Center but would come out on the losing end 83-78. The Cardinals held the lead for most of the game, but the Yellow Jackets were able to catch them in the end to drop Wheeling to 10-6 in Mountain East Conference (MEC) play.
Entering the fourth quarter, the Cardinals were staked to a 59-56 lead and just one layup was scored over the first two minutes of the quarter. Lauren Calhoun would be the first to get back on the board with a free throw and she added a layup that pushed the Cardinal's lead to 62-58. Wheeling has held the lead since the game's first quarter and were looking to hold off the charging Yellow Jackets. The Cardinals defense played a big role in holding them off as they allowed just those two Yellow Jacket points over the first 4:06 of the quarter. West Virginia State's Emayah Fortenberry would hit a pair of free throws that made it a 62-60 game. Jacqui Hinesmon would come through with a layup that got the Cardinals going again and a Carla Torrubia Cano layup made it 66-62.
However, West Virginia State kept coming and tied the game at 69-69 with 12 seconds to play. Wheeling was unable to get on the board on their final possession and the game would be sent to overtime. Again both defenses stood strong with neither team putting the ball in for the first two minutes of the overtime period. Hinesmon would get the Cardinals back out in front with a layup as the team's would trade the next six points to put Wheeling ahead 73-71. However, the Yellow Jackets would hit a run, scoring six straight points to take their first lead since the first quarter at 77-73. The Cardinals tried to battle back but they would never get the lead again. Shanley Woods put up a three-pointer that could have tied the game, but the ball rung off the rim ending the game at 83-78.
It was a big game for senior Jacqui Hinesmon, who put up her best game of the season. She finished with 20 points in the night and was Wheeling's top free throw shooter, going 6-9 from the free throw line. Coming off the bench, Carla Torrubia Cano would come off the bench and provided a much-needed spark for her team. She finished with 14 points on the night, her season best, an added six rebounds. The other double digit score for the Cardinals was senior Lauren Thomas who picked up her 15th double double of the season. She led the defense with 12 rebounds and added 12 points of her own on the day. It was a tough loss for the Cardinals, as they continue this stretch of regionally ranked opponents, but they looked to keep fighting as they head towards the 2023 MEC tournament.
This game was as competitive early on as It was at the end, with both teams battling back and forth. After the first minute and a half of the game past by, West Virginia State got on the board with a free throw. The Cardinals were quick to respond as Calhoun Little way up to give Wheeling a 2-1 lead. The back and forth continued until a score sat even at 6-6 with 7:06 left in the first. Wheeling broke the tie with a Calhoun lay up and broke through with the first big run of the day. They scored six of the next eight points and led 12-8 after the media time out. They extended their lead to 14-8 a minute later, Before West Virginia State crawled back and took a 15-14 lead. A pair of Dalton free throws got the Cardinals back out in front And they wouldn't give up that lead for the rest of the quarter as they led 23-20.
Wheeling kept that roll going into the second quarter, scoring the first four points, and found themselves ahead 27-20. They would push it to as high as an eight point lead at 30-22 and by the second quarter media timeout, it was a 32-27 Wheeling advantage. The Yellow Jackets battled back to within four points, but Wheeling held in to lead 40-36 heading into halftime. The third quarter was a back and forth affair with West Virginia State slightly outscoring wheeling 20-19. That gave the Cardinals a three-point lead heading into the fourth quarter and led to the drama that would ensue. With the loss, the Cardinals dropped 10-6 in MEC play and try to continue this stretch run towards the tournament.
The Wheeling University Women's Basketball team returns to action on Wednesday, February 8th, when they hit the road to face Concord at 5:30 PM.