Another upset for the Wheeling JesuitCardinals women's basketball team was not to be on Thursday, as WJU couldn'tfight past the aggressive defense of the #9 Glenville State Pioneers, droppingthe Mountain East Conference quarterfinal 75-53.
The Pioneers forced the Cardinals into 22 turnovers on thenight, putting WJU under pressure with every possession. Glenville was able tofinish those turnovers in transition, scoring 34 points in the paint.
The 8th seed Cardinals finish their season withtheir best overall performance since 2006 with a record of 15-13 (11-10 MEC).
The WJU game plan was to slow the ball down against aPioneer offense that has averaged 100 points per game this season, a plan theywere able to execute in the first half holding GSC to just 31 at the break.
"I thought after the first half we were in pretty goodshape," said WJU head coach Debbie Buff. "We worked on slowing the ball down,but had too many turnovers. We usually take care of the ball well, but had ahard time with their defense tonight. I've got nothing but positive things tosay about this team though. They've had a great year."
After a closely fought first half, the Pioneers caught fireand drained 8 three-pointers in the second half, and shot 44-percent from thefield after the break and 46-percent over the night.
By comparison, the Cardinals shot just 39% from the fieldthroughout the game and 30-percent from long range. Senior Taneka Lewis, whoput in 14 points in her final game as a Cardinal, led WJU in the stats column.Jaila Bryant added 10 points with an injured left hand, and was only tworebounds shy of a double-double. Taylor Lubinsky also scored in double figuresputting up 10 points of her own.
In a physical contest, the Cardinals and Pioneers battledfor every possession. WJU tried to control the tempo of the game, a tactic thatworked in their favor three weeks ago when the Cardinals defeated GSC at homein one of the biggest upsets of the year in the Mountain East. The loss gavethe Pioneers added momentum coming into tonight's game.
"I think we came in with a big chip on our shoulders," saidGlenville State's #32 Ginny Mills. "We lost a heartbreaker down there. We knewif we stuck to our game plan tonight we had it, but we had a chip on ourshoulders for sure."
For the Cardinal seniors however, they will take this gameas an indicator of just how far they have come as a program in a short time.
"We've really come together as a unit this year," said Lewisin the post-game press conference. "The friendships we've built on this teamhelped us on and off the court. Basketball will come to an end, but thesefriendships will stay with us."