FAIRMONT – The Wheeling University men’s basketball team (4-11, 3-6) traveled an hour and a half to Fairmont, West Virginia Wednesday night to meet Fairmont’s 18th team. It was a big day for the two Cardinal players, but the effort was not enough as they lost to the Falcons 95-84 and lost 3-6 in the Mountain East Conference (MEC) game.
Sophomore Andrew Taylor and freshman Tre Massey spearheaded the attack, each with 19 points, setting a new season record. Taylor led the team with 50% off the floor, while Massey took over the team with two three-pointers that day. The four cardinals finished the day in double digits, with senior Jordan Reid and junior John Corte finishing behind them with 13 points each.
The Cardinals once again had a strong second half with 48 points, but the 10-point gap at half-time was too much for the team to overcome.
Senior Jarette Haynes finished the day with six points, finishing second on the team with three assists and seven rebounds. Haynes now needs 14 points to hit the 1,000-point mark in his career and is well placed to do so against Frostburg State on Saturday.
At the start of the game, the Falcons took control of three-pointers in a row and took the lead 6-0 just a minute after the start of the game.
However, it didn’t take long for Wheeling to respond as Corte and Taylor took the lead 9-3, tied for 9-9. With Wheeling starting off slowly lately, this was their chance to reverse that trend and take control early. However, it was Fairmont State who took over in the 13-4 series, making the score 22-13 with 11 minutes remaining in the first half. The Cardinals’ Trey Stoffer ended Falcon’s performance with a downtime, and Wheeling struggled to recoup the game. Over the next two minutes, they narrowed the nine-point gap to six, bringing the score to 24-18.
During the last 10 minutes of the first half, Wheeling looked for an opportunity to bring them back into play. Seven minutes before the end of the half, Corte scored a three-pointer, which kicked off the Cardinals’ streak 7-2, but the gap remained at 12 five minutes before the end of the first half. After another bucket from Fairmont State, Jay Gentry scores a top three with three minutes remaining in the inning, and Wheeling begins another run. This time it was a 7: 2 streak, which made the score 42: 34 with two minutes remaining in the first half. The Falcons finished the half with four of their last six points, leading to a 46-36 hiatus. Wheeling was quite effective from the court in the first half, scoring 44.4% and receiving input from all quarters. Taylor was leading with 12 points in the first half and hoped to continue that success in the second half.
During the last 20 minutes of the game, an offensive shootout took place between the two teams, in which both scored almost 50 points. It was Taylor who started the second half with a three-pointer and kicked off the streak in which Wheeling returned to the game. The Cardinals didn’t make long runs, but beat Fairmont State 19-7 for the next seven minutes when Wheeling took the lead in the game for the first time. They officially took the lead when Massie hit the jumper at 13:37, giving the Cardinals a 55-53 lead. Massey added another three-pointer to extend the lead to 58-55, but that advantage didn’t last long. Fairmont State beat Wheeling 13-4 to regain the 67-62 lead with 10 minutes remaining.
Wheeling has kept a single-digit lead for the past 10 minutes but has never been able to break it. Corte, Taylor, Gentry and William Gabbert scored a goal, but for every Cardinals shot, the Falcons had the answer. It took until the clock was only 1:32 before the Falcons pulled ahead to 11 points. John Corte added another three-pointer in the last minute, but that’s all the Cardinals could muster when they lost 95-84. Wheeling improved his shooting percentage in the second half, scoring 48.8% and 33.3% from beyond the arc. Wheeling’s attack just missed 50 points in the second half in its fourth straight game, finishing with 48 points. They are now heading out over the weekend in search of in-game recovery at a conference.
The Wheeling University men’s basketball team is back in action Saturday, January 15, when they host Frostburg, starting at 4:00 pm.