Women’s Basketball Clinches Playoff Spot, Falls to Charleston 86-72
CHARLESTON, W. Virginia — The Wheeling University women’s basketball team (12-9, 10-5) kicked off the month of February on Wednesday when they traveled to Charleston, West Virginia. The offense struggled all night with two 20+ point quarters, but it wasn’t enough as they fell 86-72. However, with both Frostburg State and Alderson Broaddus failing in their games, the Cardinals have secured a spot in the Mountain East Conference (MEC) tournament for the third straight season.
It was the cardinal’s offense that started the night like this Jacqui Hinesmon hit a layup to turn it into a 2-0 Cardinal advantage. That would start a back and forth that lasted the first four minutes of the game and saw the team tied at 9-9. After two minutes with neither team getting on the board, Charleston’s Dakota Reeves hit a three-pointer to give them an 11-9 advantage with 4:46 to play in the first game. They hit another three a minute later, extending their lead to 18-11 with 2:38 to play. Shanley Woods would get her team back in the game with a three-pointer that brought the score back to 18-14. Woods would hit three more free throws to put them on six points for the run, while Wheeling made it a three-point game. They would be left with the same three point deficit as they trailed after a 22-19.
The teams would trade the first four points of the second quarter, but Charleston would continue to extend their lead with a 6-2 run. Fatima Mohammed would come off the bench and quickly stop the run with a three, but Charleston’s Markyia McCormick would respond with a three of her own that made it a 31-24 game. The Cardinals fought back to make it a seven-point game, but the Golden Eagles started offense again with a 5-0 run that extended their lead to 40-28. In the final 30 seconds of the first half, the Cardinals were down 10, 46-36, as they attempted to reduce the Golden Eagles’ lead. They got to the foul line twice during that time and Kenzie Dalton and Grace Fairman Each hit shoots 4-4 off the line. The Cardinals went into the half 49-40, trying to build a 21-point quarter.
However, it would be the Cardinals’ defense that would be the Stars coming off the break and not leaving the Golden Eagles on the board in the first four minutes of the quarter. The Cardinals scored five unanswered points during the run and went 49-45 in the third game with 6:53 left. Wheeling was able to hold it in a four-point game for the next minute before Shamia Strayhorn helped her team crawl closer. She hit a 3:56 layup in the quarter and just like that it was a 55-53 game. She was fouled at play and added a free throw to end the three-point game and the Cardinals were within a point. However, Charleston’s offense rallied, topping the Cardinals 12-7 in the last 3:56 of the quarter, and Charleston led 67-60 into the final 10 minutes of the game.
A pair of free throws for the Cardinals would start the quarter, but a Charleston three would follow, taking the score 72-64 in favor of the Golden Eagles. Charleston would continue their offensive push and go on a 10-2 run that brought the score to 83-68 with 3:04 to play. Strayhorn hit a free throw to end the Golden Eagles’ run, but three more free throws for Charleston increased their lead to 86-69. The Cardinals would end the game with three free throws, one of them Bryana Henderson, and one from Calhoun. It wasn’t enough to complete the comeback, however, as the Cardinals suffered their fifth conference loss, 86-72. It was the team’s fourth away loss of the season as they prepare to return home this weekend.
Pioneering for Wheeling Lauren Calhoun, who returned with her 14th double-double of the season. She led offense with 20 points and defense with 11 rebounds. With 1,075 career points, she is now in the all-time top 20 for the Cardinals. Shamia Strayhorn continued her offensive success in the 2023 section of the schedule, scoring 16 points including a 4-7 mark from the free throw line. Shanley Woods rounded out the Cardinal’s double-digit scoring tally in that game and ended the evening with 13 points. Kenzie Dalton and Jacqui Hinesmon led the passing game and finished with two assists each. Now that a playoff spot is officially locked, the Cardinals will now focus on seeding as they try to get as high a seed as possible en route to WesBanco Arena.
The Wheeling University women’s basketball team returns to action on Saturday, February 4 when they host West Virginia State at 2:00 p.m.