No. 4 WJU Works Way Past Shepherd, Takes over MEC Lead

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The No. 4 Cardinals worked their way past the Rams of Shepherd, 82-74, for an even dozen road victories and took over sole possession of the Mountain East Conference lead Thursday night.

WJU (21-1) recorded its 16th victory in a row and took its MEC mark to a league-best 14-1. Rival No. 6 West Liberty prevailed, 84-77, at No. 2 Fairmont State and gave Wheeling Jesuit the one-game lead at the MEC top.

The Cardinals used a 9-0 run to end the first half and made it 13-0 with the opening two second-half buckets for a 50-33 lead on the Rams (11-10/6-9). WJU allowed Shepherd no closer than eight points including the final difference.

“It was a good team win,” noted WJU head coach Danny Sancomb. “Justin Fritts made some big shots for us. Eric (Siefert), Pat (Moseh), Kyle (Ritz) and Haywood (Highsmith) were solid again. We did not do a good job rebounding and need to take care of the ball better though. Matt Stewart gave us great minutes off the bench tonight. A good road win versus a good team.”

Fritts drained five big treys in 10 attempts for a team-best 21 points. The senior added three assists and three rebounds.

Point guard Eric Siefert added 17 points, including three 3-pointers of his own, as one of the other four double-digit Cardinals.

Moseh had a solid all-around night with 12 points, eight boards and six assists, while Highsmith chipped in 14 points on 7 for 13 shooting, four rebounds and four steals.

Ritz made 3 of 4 tries from the floor for 10 points and grabbed five rebounds. Stewart hauled down four caroms and had a layup in 14 minutes of work.

The home Rams received a 22-point night from Steffen Davis.

Shepherd held a lead by as many as five points, 25-20. Wheeling Jesuit ran off the next 10 unanswered points, 30-25, with four points from Moseh in the spurt.

Off a Rams’ triple, the Cardinals saw its lead cut to two, 35-33. Highsmith guided the key WJU run to end the first half with two-straight layups in the lane and added a third with 28 seconds left for the eventual 46-33 intermission score.

Ritz tipped in a last-second bucket before the half and added the opening one to start the second half as the Cardinals finished the 13-0 lead for the a 17-point advantage, 50-33.

Shepherd made a valiant effort but was unable to get closer than eight points over the final 19 minutes.

WJU returns home for a Saturday, Feb. 6, ‘Red-Out’ game. The Cardinals host the No. 2 Falcons of Fairmont State in a 4 p.m. contest for the battle for the MEC lead.

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