CHARLESTON - Even after Wheeling Jesuit beat the University of Charleston for the third time this season and the second time in a week, Coach Mark Downey had a hard time wrapping his head around his team's 72-62 defeat in a West Virginia Conference tournament quarterfinal matchup Thursday at the Charleston Civic Center Arena.
''I'm not used to this,'' he said. ''I'm very disappointed in that effort. My teams in the past have not underachieved we like we did.''
The No. 5-seeded Golden Eagles (19-9) had momentum throughout the first half and used an 14-6 run en route to a 27-16 lead with 7:10 to play to give UC its biggest lead of the half.
Wheeling Jesuit’s Justin Fritts (22) drives into the zone past the defense of Charleston’s Robbie Dreher (1) during their WVC Tournament game Thursday night.
The No. 4 seed Cardinals (19-9) then capped off a spurt of their own as Andre Harris hit a 3 with three seconds remaining in the half to get WJU within one at 37-36.
''Our guys know what they need to do,'' UC coach Danny Sancomb said. ''Our guys are going to continue to fight. We were down 10 points but I knew we were going to get back into the game.''
Even though it was a one-point game, the Golden Eagles out rebounded WJU 24-10 and ended the game plus-16 in the category (44-28).
After a free throw by Robbie Dreher gave Charleston a 41-40 edge in the early going of the second half, Joe Prati drained a jumper and WJU never relinquished the lead.
''We had a lead in the first half and threw it to them two or three times just like we did at Wheeling,'' Downey said. ''They knock down a few shots and the momentum entirely changes.''
The Cardinals even stretched the lead to 12 after WVC Freshman of the Year Justin Fritts knocked down an open 3-pointer.
''It was a good game,'' Sancomb said. 'Defense in the second did a good job ... made them take contested shots. They rebounded the ball well, but when it came time for us to grab the rebounds we did that.''
Fritts lead WJU, which will face county rival West Liberty at 8 tonight, with 19 points behind 5 of 6 shooting from downtown, while brothers Ben and Eric Siefert each added 15 points.
Prati ended with 12 points and six rebounds.
Charleston was lead by Zavier Humphrey's 19 points, while Terrell Lipkins added 17. Robbie Dreher chipped in a double-double with 13 boards to go with 10 points.