Wheeling Jesuit eludes Rams using first half burst
Wheeling Jesuit is wafting along above the fray this season.
The Cardinals have the highest national ranking in school history, standing at No. 4 in the country, with a 21-1 record, the likes of which the school has never seen before.
The 21st win came because the Cardinals scored the last 13 points of the first half against Shepherd and protected that scoring burst of excellence in trimming the Rams, 82-74, last Thursday at the Butcher Center.
Justin Fritts, one of the country’s better substitutes, threw in his 21 points, to lead a five-player brigade of double-figure scorers for the high-flying Cardinals. Eric Siefert added 17 points to the Wheeling Jesuit scoresheet as the Cardinals remained tied for first place in the Mountain East Conference with Fairmont, also the loser of only one game this season.
Once it had left the trials of a 33-33 game behind, the Cardinals were never headed, scoring the first four points in the second half and resisting the sporatic comeback efforts the Rams had behind their own super sub, Steffen Davis, who registered 22 points for the cold-shooting home team.
For fully 16 minutes of the smoothly flowing first half, the game had very few fouls and very few turnovers by either side.
The first spate of Shepherd turnovers were mixed in a lethal potion for the Rams’ chances by six straight missed field goal attempts.
And Wheeling Jesuit flew away from a 33-33 tie to a 46-33 lead by halftime.
Although it had several small runs of points in the second half, Shepherd couldn’t carve out any meaningful streaks. The Rams also placed five scorers in double figures, but couldn’t avoid a loss that left them at 11-10 overall and 6-9 in conference play.
So far, this is the best Wheeling Jesuit season in school history and even if it doesn’t bare the ripe fruit of a regular season title or a MEC tournament championship, the Cardinals will probably have done enough to be invited to the NCAA Division II Regional tournament in early March.