WHEELING -When one team beats another by 33 points, the loser can't wait to get another shot to try to prove its worth.
Davis & Elkins had that chance against Wheeling Jesuit in the first round of the Men's West Virginia Conference Tournament on Tuesday night and the visitors from Elkins held a lead late, but the Cardinals were able to weather the Senators' storm and pull off a 77-69 victory inside the Alma Grace McDonough Center.
''They're a good team,'' WJU coach Danny Sancomb said. ''I expected to win the game, but I knew it's a tournament game. It's a one-game season now. They have some good players. I thought we would have to play well to win.''
Wheeling Jesuit’s Justin Fritts takes a 3-point shot during Tuesday night’s game.
The No. 4-seeded Cardinals (18-9) started the game with a 3-point blitz as Jesuit hit four 3s in the first 10 minutes to take a 23-12 lead, but No. 13 seed D&E (8-19) used a 12-0 run to take its first lead at 24-23.
However, despite shooting 79 percent (15 of 19) form the floor, D&E trailed by three, 39-36, at the half.
''We started off sluggish in the first half, and they shot the ball very well,'' Sancomb said. ''I felt good that we were winning and they were shooting at that high of a percentage.''
After a tip-in by Tim Goff, the Cardinals started the second half ahead 43-36 but two 3s by D'Quan Lynch, who finished 4 of 6 from downtown, trimmed Jesuit's lead to one at 45-44.
At the 12:53 mark, the Senators took a lead on Ante Cosic jumper at 54-53 and watched as the Cardinals turned ice cold. All of them but one.
Despite never giving WJU the lead, freshman Eric Siefert did all he could in the last 10 minutes to keep his team in the game as he answered every Senators basket with one of his own.
Siefert, the little brother of senior Ben, hit five of the Cardinals' last seven shots from the field and tied the game at 67-67 on a conventional 3-point play with 1:53 left.
''Eric's rock solid,'' Sancomb said. ''He's scored today, but he's done the little things for us all year. He stepped up and had a bigger, slower guy on him but he was still able to drive the lane and create some things for himself. He came up big. Without his effort we would have been in trouble.''
The younger Siefert ended the game 7 of 11 for a team-high 17 points as WJU used six free throws to put the game on ice.
Big brother Ben added 11 points, eight assists and five rebounds for the Cardinals, while Joe Prati had 16 points.
''We made some plays down the stretch, grabbed some rebounds and just did enough to win the game,'' Sancomb said.
Lynch led the Senators with a game-high 20 points. Devin Miller added 18, while Igor Premasunac and Shane Brown had 12 points each.
With the victory the Cardinals will advance to face the No. 5-seeded Golden Eagles of the University of Charleston.
''We have to be ready to play,'' Sancomb said. ''We beat them by one point (on Jan. 24) and beat them by six in double overtime (on Feb 21). We know that they are going to be ready to play against us, so we have to be ready to start the game with high energy and take the game to them.
''It's either win or go home now so every game is very big. You have to go one game to the next game. We're happy we won but our focus is on Charleston.''