Wheeling, W. Va. - Entering play on Saturday afternoon, the Wheeling University Men's Basketball team (6-20, 4-16) needed a win to keep their hopes of making the 2023 Mountain East Conference (MEC) Tournament alive. They were able to do just that, sweeping the season series over Frostburg State with a 92-81 win as they honored their seniors with one of their biggest wins of the season. Wheeling used a 50-point second half offensive outburst to maintain their lead and pick up their fourth conference win of the season and move into a tie for the #10 seed in the conference.
Early on, it was Frostburg State that got out to the hot start, scoring eight of the first 11 points on the night. Marcus Johnson would hit a layup during that run and Trey Stoffer added a free throw that put the Cardinals down 8-3 over the first three minutes of play. A Vincent Smalls layup for the Bobcats would push the advantage to 10-3 before Andrew Taylor broke the run with a jumper. John Korte would add a jumper and just like that it was a game again as Frostburg State led 12-7 at the first media timeout. Johnson would hit another layup that pushed the score to 14-9 before freshman Ryan Reasbeck once again brought his spark off the bench. Reasbeck hit a jumper and a three-pointer and the game was tied 14-14. Reasbeck would add one more three to his night and by the 10 minute mark, Wheeling was staked to a 19-16 lead.
As the next 10 minutes began, Wheeling would hit a run scoring the next seven points as they turned a three-point lead into a 10-point lead at 26-16 with 7:25 to play in the half. After a Frostburg State layup broke the run. William Gabbert added another three-pointer to make it 29-18 and a dunk by Taylor would bring it to a 31-20 game. The Cardinals defense was stingy throughout the final stretch, allowing just two Bobcat points over a span of nine minutes as Wheeling continued to score, building a 42-21 lead with 2:22 to play. Frostburg State would add the final five points of the half, but Wheeling went into the locker room with a 42-26 lead. It was one of the biggest halftime leads of the season for the team, and they were looking to build off of it as they headed into the second half.
The Cardinals came out of the locker room with a pair of free throws from Trey Stoffer, but Frostburg State responded with two free throws of their own that made it 44-28.The Cardinals continued to score, with a dunk by Taylor and a three-pointer by Marcus Johnson, but Frostburg State was scoring just as much and kept up. It was a 53-40 game with 15:09 to play before Brent Price hit a three-pointer that pushed the Cardinal's lead to 56-40 before the first media timeout. Frostburg State would then begin their comeback, scoring nine of the next 11 points and making it just a nine-point Wheeling advantage with 11:58 to play. By the 10 minute mark, the Bobcats had cut that deficit almost in half and it was a one-point game heading into the final 10 minute stretch.
Johnson would hit a layup to get Wheeling back on track and Price added a pair of free throws that pushed it to a 65-60 Wheeling advantage. The Cardinals used that momentum to push them on a 5-2 run and with 5:38 to play the Cardinals once again found themselves ahead by nine at 72-63. Frostburg State would get back to within four points of holding the #10 seed, but Price would hit another layup and the Cardinals would lead 78-72. A Tairell Fletcher three-pointer would bring it to a 78-75 game, but Wheeling would call a 30 second timeout to regroup. It was just what the doctor ordered as the Cardinals scored five straight to make it 83-75. It was enough to help them claim the victory and send both Price and Korte off of the floor with a standing ovation. Wheeling would win 92-81 and moved into a tie for the #10 seed with two games to go.
It was a total team effort for the Cardinals with six different players finishing in double figures, and seven players finishing with at least eight points. Leading the way was sophomore Marcus Johnson, who finished with 16 points on the day and a 6-11 shooting percentage from the floor. Brent Price was behind him 1ith 15 points while Trey Stoffer added a season-high 14 points while leading the way with a 10-12 mark from the free throw line. John Korte (12), Ryan Reasbeck (12), and Andrew Taylor (11) rounded out the double digit scorers as the Cardinals picked up their biggest win of the season. They now head into the final week of the season with the tiebreaker over Frostburg State and needing to atleast tie with the Bobcats to earn the #10 seed.
The Wheeling University Men's Basketball team will return to action on Wednesday, February 22nd, when they hit the road to face Alderson Broaddus with tip-off scheduled for 5:30 PM.