Athens, W. Va. – Early on Wednesday night, the Wheeling University Women's Basketball team's (12-11, 10-7) defense was on fire. However, the early start wasn't enough as they fell to Concord 75-68 as they drop to 10-7 in Mountain East Conference (MEC) play. Wheeling allowed just four points over the first 10 minutes of play, but the Mountain Lions were able to battle back and split the season series.
The Cardinals would get on the board first two minutes into the game when Shamia Strayhorn got her big day started with a layup. Concord responses with a bucket on the next possession, but those would be the only two points for the team over the game's first five minutes. A Kenzie Dalton layup got the Cardinals back on the board and a Shanley Woods three-pointer staked Wheeling to a 7-2 lead as the first media timeout approached. Concord's Jazz Blankenship broke the run with a layup before both teams were once again put on a scoreless run. Wheeling would be the next to get on the board with 45 seconds left on the clock on a pair of free throws by Carla Torrubia Cano. Strayhorn would add a layup before the quarter closed and Wheeling was staked to an 11-4 lead after one.
Wheeling's offense came out just as strong in the second half, with Cano and Graci Fairman helping Wheeling build a 15-8 lead. Strayhorn added another free throw to make it 16-8 before Concord began their battle back into the game. The Mountain Lions would come roaring back on a 7-2 run that turned it into an 18-15 Cardinals lead. Hannah Perdue added a layup before the media timeout and the Cardinals went to the bench with just a one point lead. Wheeling was able to hold that advantage at 23-21 until the 1:46 mark of the quarter when a pair of free throws brought the game even at 23-23. Each team would add two more free throws before the end of the half, courtesy of Concord's Nakaila Gray and Wheeling's Fairman, and the teams headed into the locker room tied at 25-25.
As the teams came out of the locker room, Concord would get their first lead of the night at 27-25 before the Cardinal's offense got started once again. Cano would hit a layup that got things going as the Cardinals scored eight straight points to build a 34-27 lead. Still Concord was able to remain in the game, battling back to make it a 36-33 game before a pair of Cano free throws put the Cardinals back in the driver's seat at 38-33 by the third quarter media timeout. Taylor Cullen added a big three-pointer that stretched the Cardinals lead to 41-33, giving them their biggest advantage since the second quarter media timeout. Fairman added four points over the final four minutes of the quarter, and a pair of Dalton free throws had Wheeling ahead 47-41 heading into the final 10 minutes of play.
However, the Mountain Lions would find their groove, scoring a game-high 33 points in the fourth quarter. Concord got things started with a Maggie Guynn three-pointer that kicked off a 12-1 run that gave them their biggest lead of the night at 53-48. Lauren Calhoun broke the Mountain Lion run with a layup, but with five minutes left the Cardinals still found themselves trailing 57-55. The Cardinals tried to battle back, but were unsuccessful as they fell 75-68. Despite the loss, the Cardinals are still in position with the #6 seed in the field and will continue their run to clinch a first round bye as they get set to take on the #1 seeded Glenville State Pioneer this weekend at the Alma Grace McDonough Center.
Leading the way for the Cardinals was Shamia Strayhorn, who continues her strong 2023 portion of the schedule. She led the way with 18 points in the game, putting together a season-best performance on the night. The Cardinal's other double figure scorer on the night was Graci Fairman, who finished with 12 points on the night. Shanley Woods and Lauren Calhoun would lead the defensive effort with four rebounds each while Kenzie Dalton continued her success in the passing game, with a team high six assists.
The Wheeling University Women's Basketball team returns to action on Saturday, February 11th, when they host Glenville State at 2 PM.