One year later, one step further and one step left to go. The Wheeling Jesuit women’s basketball team used a stout defense and early second-half run and defeated Notre Dame College, 79-66, in the Mountain East Conference Semifinal Saturday afternoon.
After withstanding a strong Falcons’ second-quarter charge, the Cardinals (25-5) opened the third quarter with a 13-2 run and took away the victory. The WJU defense held Notre Dame College (20-10) to 33-percent from the floor (20 of 60) and forced 24 turnovers.
“It was important for us to get that first game (a Thursday win over the University of Charleston in the MEC Quarterfinals) under our belt and get our confidence back,” started WJU head coach Debbie Buff. “We wanted to have fun today and enjoy the moment. We were able to get off to a quick start and we played poised. I couldn’t be prouder of our team.”
With the win, Wheeling Jesuit qualifies for its first MEC Tournament Championship game. The Cardinals reached the MEC Semifinals a year ago where they fell 70-68 in overtime to the rival Hilltoppers of West Liberty – the MEC Championship opponent. West Liberty claimed the first MEC Semifinal of the day, 53-40, over Fairmont State.
“We wanted to get to this point,” stressed Buff. “We missed a lot of shots in the paint a week ago at their place. We look forward to it (the title game) as it is always exciting to play West Liberty.”
A big key to the Cardinals success was stopping two-time All-MEC First Team and last year’s MEC Player of the Year Martha Nagbe. The Notre Dame senior took an 18.0-point average into the game and posted 21 points in her team’s 74-62 win a week ago in South Euclid, Ohio.
Senior Taylor Lubinsky, who scored 10 points of her own on the offensive end, was the main WJU defender of Nagbe and helped hold the high-scoring threat to 10 points on 3 of 10 shooting and saw her commit four turnovers.
“Taylor (Lubinsky) was huge for us face-guarding Nagbe all day for us. We said if we were going to get beat it was not going to be by someone scoring 30 points on us and Taylor didn’t hesistate when we asked her with the assignment on defense,” explained Buff.
Another Cardinals senior Jaila Bryant took over the team’s leadership of the second 20 minutes. The guard went 1 of 6 from the floor with four first-half points, but led the charge by adding 16 second-half points on 5 of 9 attempts for a game-high 20 points.
It was Bryant who scored seven of the Cardinals’ points and assisted on another bucket in the second-half opening 13-2 run, which gave her team a 19-point advantage, 53-34, at 5:03 in the third quarter.
“I saw how they were playing me in the first half. I wanted to be more aggressive in the second half, attack the lane and dish out to our shooters,” Bryant said.
Bryant’s backcourt teammate, Mariah Callen led WJU to a 30-11 first-quarter lead. She pumped in nine points including a pair of treys in the quick start. For the game, the sophomore finished with 18 points, four rebounds, four assists and six steals.
“We are a good team when we share and we did that today,” added Callen.
Callen and the Cardinals produced 18 assists on 24 made field goals on the day.
On the inside, Chenelle Moore logged a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds as well as two blocked shots. Forward Jaana Motton played solid with eight points and nine boards.
Kylie Frizzell pumped in three 3-pointers and 11 points off the WJU bench.
Notre Dame College vs Wheeling Jesuit University
3/5/16 2:15 PM at Charleston Civic Center Coliseum
At Charleston Civic Center Coliseum
WHEELING JESUIT UNIVERSITY 79, NOTRE DAME COLLEGE 66
NOTRE DAME COLLEGE (20-10)
Kim Cook 5-11 0-0 14; Kelsey Miller 3-5 5-5 12; Martha Nagbe 3-10 3-4 10;
Alyssa Kraus 3-6 2-2 8; Terrina Robinson 1-5 3-4 6; Celine Mangan 2-7 0-0 6;
Erin Haislah 2-5 2-2 6; Hope Thorbahn 1-3 0-0 2; Lexi Hassing 0-6 2-2 2;
Ciara Reed 0-0 0-0 0; Jessica Garcia 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 20-60 17-19 66.
WHEELING JESUIT UNIVERSITY (25-5)
Jaila Bryant 6-15 8-10 20; Mariah Callen 4-11 8-11 18; Chenelle Moore 4-9
4-5 12; Kylie Frizell 3-4 2-2 11; Taylor Lubinsky 4-9 1-3 10; Jaana Motton
3-7 2-2 8; Chelsea Richardson 0-0 0-0 0; Marissa Tucker 0-0 0-0 0; Lydia
Hyburg 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-56 25-33 79.
Notre Dame College............ 11 22 8 25 - 66
Wheeling Jesuit University.... 30 10 21 18 - 79
3-point goals--Notre Dame College 9-29 (Kim Cook 4-7; Celine Mangan 2-6;
Terrina Robinson 1-2; Kelsey Miller 1-2; Martha Nagbe 1-7; Jessica Garcia
0-1; Erin Haislah 0-3; Alyssa Kraus 0-1), Wheeling Jesuit University 6-13
(Kylie Frizell 3-4; Mariah Callen 2-5; Taylor Lubinsky 1-4). Fouled
out--Notre Dame College-Martha Nagbe, Wheeling Jesuit University-Jaana
Motton. Rebounds--Notre Dame College 38 (Martha Nagbe 9), Wheeling Jesuit
University 37 (Chenelle Moore 11). Assists--Notre Dame College 13 (Martha
Nagbe 6), Wheeling Jesuit University 12 (Jaila Bryant 6). Total fouls--Notre
Dame College 29, Wheeling Jesuit University 17. Technical fouls--Notre Dame
College-None, Wheeling Jesuit University-None.
Mountain East Conference Women's Basketball Tournament Semifinal Game #2