Bobcats can’t hold 10-point lead at half in 62-59 setback to Cardinals

BUCKHANNON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Wesleyan (2-17, 1-12) men’s basketball team lost a tough battle against the Wheeling Cardinals (6-13, 5-8) 62-59, in front of a raucous crowd on Wednesday inside Rockefeller Center. Jayden Hibbitt had a career-high 16 rebounds.
Leaders for WVWC
Hibbitt tallied his second double-double of the season, finishing with 18 points and eight rebounds. Tommie Pope had a bit of everything going for the ‘Cats, scoring six points and grabbing seven rebounds. Braeden McGrew was the other Bobcat to score in double digits, tallying 11 points in the first half.
Leaders for Wheeling
The Cardinals were led by Jordan Reid’s game-high 22 points (8-for-18). Reid was a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe and brought down seven rebounds for the Cardinals. Jay Gentry scored 14 points on 5-for-15 shooting and 2-for-8 from downtown.
Inside the First Half
The Cardinals jumped out to an early 7-4 lead before the first media timeout. The Bobcats exploded out of the timeout on an 8-2 run over the next three minutes, capped off by a free-throw line jumper from Ike Dove. Both teams got stuck in a lull offensively, with the game going scoreless over the next 2:31. McGrew put an end to the drought scoring the following eight points for the Bobcats and forced the Cardinals into a timeout after gaining a 20-13 advantage.
The Cardinals battled back, taking a 23-20 advantage into the final media timeout of the half. WVWC rattled off 13 unanswered points highlighted by John Ibukunoluwa’s bucket with .03 seconds remaining. Ibukunoluwa was fouled in the process but missed the subsequent free-throw attempt. The bucket gave the Bobcats their largest lead of the game, heading into the break.
Inside the Second Half
Wheeling switched up their game plan in the second half and went on an 8-0 run in the opening minutes. Both teams would exchange the lead, with Wheeling taking a 39-37 lead with 15:40 remaining. The score would not change until Anthony Craven Jr. hit a pair of free-throws at the 13:15 mark to draw the game even at 39 apiece.
Wesleyan took a one-point advantage into the under 10 media timeout after Daunte Gardner put back a McGrew missed three-pointer to make the score 45-44. Both teams would again trade the lead back and forth before Gardner would again make a clutch basket to give the ‘Cats a 55-50 lead with 4:42 remaining. The Cardinals ended the game on a 12-4 run with Brent Price icing the game with a made free-throw with 1.7 seconds remaining.
Up Next
WVWC heads north to take on the No. 8 West Liberty Hilltoppers. Tip-off is Sunday at 4 p.m,

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