BUCKHANNON — The West Virginia Wesleyan College Lady Bobcat basketball team dropped a heartbreaking decision in their season opener Wednesday, falling to the University of Pitt-Johnstown 70-63 despite leading much of the game.
Sophomore guard Victoria Jackson led the Lady ‘Cats with 20 points on 10-for-17 shooting.
Wesleyan head coach Vicky Bullett also got a lot of production off her bench, with Tyra Hughes scoring 16 points and Amira Layeni adding 10.
Pitt-Johnstown got more than half their scoring from two players: Gabrielle Smith with 25 points and Alli McGrath with 24.
The biggest difference of the game came at the foul line: UPJ scored 24 of their 70 points on free throws, hitting 24-of-27. Wesleyan, meanwhile, took just seven free throws, draining five of them.
The game was tight throughout. Pitt-Johnstown claimed the first quarter 22-21, but the Lady ‘Cats battled back and led most the of the second stanza. The game entered intermission tied 35-35.
Wesleyan came out hot in the third, jumping out to a 7-point lead just two minutes into the quarter and maintaining a healthy lead throughout.
But the home squad went ice cold in the fourth, managing just seven total points. UPJ needed just two minutes to erase a seven-point deficit and took the lead for good with 6:45 left on a McGrath three-pointer.
A huge trey from Layeni gave the Lady ‘Cats a glimmer of hope as the clock dipped under a minute, but Pitt-Johnstown took care of business at the charity stripe to secure the win.
The Lady Cats are headed on the road to open Mountain East Conference play at Wheeling Jesuit on Saturday but will return to Rockefeller Center on Monday, Nov. 19, when they’ll host West Liberty.
Tip-off for that match is set for 7:30 p.m.