WHEELING - The Wheeling Jesuit men's basketball team used every second of Saturday's 40-minute contest against the University of Pitt-Johnstown for an 81-80 victory on Senior Day.
Before the game, the Cardinals recognized two cheerleaders, Maria Meyer and Timorie Underwood, and four senior basketball players, Ben Siefert, Recardo Gaddy, Philip Green and Joe Prati as the 2013 graduating basketball class.
The Cardinals trailed 40-36 at halftime and used the final 20-minutes of the game to improve to 15-8 overall and 12-7 in WVIAC play while the Mountain Cats slipped to 14-10 overall and 10-10 in the league.
Five Cardinals tallied double-digit points as senior Joe Prati led the way. Prati tossed in a team-high 23 points on a 7-for-15 shooting performance from the floor which included a 5-for-10 showing from beyond the 3-point arc. He pulled down six rebounds with a pair of assists and blocked shots while adding a steal. Ben Siefert kept the offense in motion with a double-double, pouring in 14 points coupled with 12 assist. The senior point guard secured a team-high seven rebounds and added a block and a steal. Justin Fritts followed with 14 points while Recardo Gaddy and Andre Harris chipped in 12 and 10, respectively.
After several lead changes, the game saw its fifth stalemate, 72-72, with 5:08 left to play. UPJ followed with two lay-ins, but a pair of free throws by Ben Siefert kept the Cardinals within two points, 76-74. Prati followed with a pair of shots form the charity stripe, and the game was knotted for the final time at 76-76.
With the score tied and 2:25 seconds remaining in the game, Prati grabbed a defensive rebound, and on the opposite end of the floor, gave the Cardinals a 3-point advantage on a strike from deep. UPJ's Nick Novak answered with a floater in the middle of the key, and Jesuit led 79-78 with 1:49 remaining. After Gaddy appeared to be fouled on his way to the rim, UPJ attempt to steal the lead rattled in-and-out of the cylinder. Gaddy grabbed the defensive board and found Fritts streaking down the left side of the floor. Fritts buried the lay-in, giving the Cardinals a 81-78 advantage. The Cardinal defense denied the Mountain Cats a good look at a 3-point shot, and UPJ had to settle for a rebound and put-back as the Wheeling Jesuit pulled out the one point victory.
Jordan Miller led the the Mountain Cats' offense with 20 points, and Nick Novak followed with 19 points. Andrew Cressler added 15 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
Bethany 74, Wash. & Jeff. 63
WASHINGTON, Pa. - Senior Reece Mabery scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half and senior Nick Wilcox recorded a double-double as Bethany completed the regular season sweep.
Despite the win, the Bison dropped to the fourth seed for this week's PAC Tournament, as Thiel beat Grove City to move up to the third seed. Bethany will begin the conference playoffs Tuesday night when they play host to W&J again at 7 p.m.
West Liberty 72
Fairmont State 62
FAIRMONT - Meghan Wiseman scored a career-high 26 points and the West Liberty extended its late-season run with a 72-62 victory at Fairmont State's Joe Retton Arena.
It was the eighth win in the last nine games for Coach Lynn Ullom's Hilltoppers (17-6, 15-4), who have taken a firm hold on second place in the West Virginia Conference standings heading into the final week of the regular season.
The host Falcons (16-9, 14-6), who had handed West Liberty a 72-63 loss last month at the ASRC, were in third place coming into Saturday's rematch but saw Wiseman and her Hilltopper teammates all but put this game out of reach before halftime.
Wash. & Jeff. 81
WASHINGTON, Pa. - Three different players tied or set new career-highs in scoring, but it wasn't enough to prevent the Bethany from suffering a loss at Washington & Jefferson.
The Bison finish the regular season with a 7-18 overall record and a 5-13 mark in the PAC, while the Presidents improved to 18-7 and 13-5.
The loss put the Bison into the eighth seed for next week's PAC Tournament. Bethany will open the playoffs with a road trip to top-seed Thomas More, who finished 24-1 overall and 18-0 in the conference.
Wheeling Jesuit 64
WHEELING - Wheeling Jesuit's defense caused 24 turnovers, but a stellar shooting performance from beyond the 3-point arc gave the Mountain Cats the victory.
Taneka Lewis led the Cardinals' offense with 13 points and added five rebounds, while Jaila Bryant and Jamie Sobczak followed with 12 and 11, respectively. Bryant and Sobczak recorded six steals each and Sobczak pulled down seven rebounds. Alex Anderson added nine points and a team-high eight rebounds, and Emily Robinson had seven points. Kelsey Pacholke and Breanna Butler rounded out the scoring with six points apiece.
The Cardinals (7-15, 4-14 WVIAC) caused the Mountain Cats (13-9, 11-8 WVIAC) to commit 16 turnovers in the opening half, however, UPJ used a 75-percent shooting effort (6-for-8) from behind the 3-point arc for a 34-30 halftime lead.
Jesuit trailed by as many as 12 points, 24-12, after a 10-0 run by UPJ. Wheeling Jesuit climbed back into the game by causing three consecutive turnovers to cut the Mountain Cat lead in half, 24-18. The Jesuit defense continued to pressure the UPJ offense, narrowing the deficit to 31-30 after back-to-back lay-ins by Pacholke and Sobczak. UPJ immediately responded with a 3-pointer to push the lead back to four points before the buzzer sounded, 34-30. Sobczak recorded five steals in the opening frame while Bryant and Lewis followed with three and one, respectively.
After the break, the Mountain Cats extended the to 38-30 on the first two possessions, and led by as many as 16 points, 41-57 at the 10-minute mark. The Cardinals battled back with a 7-0 run with a pair of layups by Lewis and Anderson followed by a 3-pointer from Butler, 59-50. Jesuit matched UPJ shot-for-shot over the next four minutes, and a pair of consecutive lay-ins by Bryant and Anderson cut the lead to five points, 64-59, with 3:47 left to play in the game. UPJ responded with a 3-pointer and midrange jumper by Kelsey Sleighter to push the lead back to 10 points, 69-59, and the Mountain Cats held on for the win.
The Mountain Cats shot a blazing 59-percent (10-for-17) from long distance as Nicole Carmen recorded a double-double, leading the offense with 30 points and pulling down a team-high 10 rebounds. Sleighter followed with 16 points and Kaitlynn Fratz added 13 points.