WHEELING, W.Va. – The final Cardinals home contest day could not have been any better. The No. 2 ranked Wheeling Jesuit men’s basketball team recorded a ‘Senior Day’ wire-to-wire win over West Virginia Wesleyan, 77-57, afternoon.
The Cardinals (26-1) raced to a 13-0 lead over the opening five minutes and never looked back. The Bobcats (14-12/9-11 Mountain East Conference rebounded to within six points, 22-16, with in the first half. WJU answered and put the threat to rest with a 14-3 spurt into the intermission for a 36-19 score. The home team never led by less than double digits the final 24 minutes of play.
“It was great to get a lead against them, which was important to do. We were able to get off to a really good start as we were focused and ready to play on Senior Day,” pointed out WJU head coach Danny Sancomb.
On a day honoring its five seniors, WJU kept it one-game MEC lead at 19-1 on the year. The Cardinals win was also the 21st victory in a row.
Senior Justin Fritts scored 12 second-half points and 18 for the game on 7 of 11 from the floor and led the WJU effort. He added four assists and a pair of steals.
Fellow senior Eric Siefert hit for 13 points on 6 of 11 tries, five rebounds and five assists. The other three WJU seniors Tim Goff, Sam Peduto, who sank two free throws, and Joe Peduto also contributed to the winning cause.
“I can’t tell people how important Tim Goff is this year in his leadership to the team. He is probably the best teammate on this entire team,” noted Sancomb. “Sam and Joe bust their butts every day, practice hard running the opponents’ offense and are vital to this squad.”
Forwards Haywood Highsmith and Kyle Ritz contributed a combined 26 points and 16 rebounds. Highsmith had 14 points and nine boards, while Ritz netted 12 points and seven caroms.
For the second time this week, the Cardinals handed out at least 19 assists after having 21 night versus Glenville State.
“This is a fun team. We have 16 guys that are all about winning and you don’t always have that. They do not care about accolades and individual stats,” stressed the WJU head coach. “Tim Goff, Eric Siefert and Justin Fritts are all about winning and they have built a real culture that is about winning.”
The Bobcats’ Tanner McGrew led the visiting effort with 18 points and eight rebounds.
“We did a great job making it hard to get the ball into him between Kyle Ritz and Matt Stewart. Those two McGrew play really hard and anytime you limit him to 11 shots is an excellent job,” said Sancomb.
West Virginia Wesleyan made two quick surges in the second half to pull within 10 points twice, 40-30 and 52-42. After the second one, WJU produced a 14-2 run for a 66-46 advantage with and ended any further doubt.
WJU finishes its regular season next week with a pair of extremely tough road games. The Cardinals play at the Falcons of Notre Dame College night, , in a contest. WJU wraps its regular season afternoon, , at West Liberty.