WISE – – UVa-Wise closed the first half on a 7-0 run and carried the streak over to score the first seven points of the second half to overcome a 24-18 deficit en route to a 59-52 women’s basketball victory over West Virginia Wesleyan at the Prior Center Wednesday. With the win, the Cavaliers have now won six consecutive games and remain in a tie for first place in the Mountain East Conference with a 3-0 league mark.
UVa-Wise (6-1, 3-0 MEC) used the play of seniors Taylor Sandidge and Makenzie Cluesman to close the half, gaining a one point halftime lead in the process. Sandidge started the 7-0 run with a layup before Cluesman drained one of her game-high five 3-pointers. Sandidge gave the Cavs the lead when she stole the ball from Stacy Remer and raced in for the go-ahead layup.
West Virginia Wesleyan (2-3, 2-1 MEC) would fall behind by as many as 15 points in the fourth quarter before mounting a final comeback attempt. The Bobcats would the game within two possessions with 1:03 remaining when Rachel Vandertoolen sank a jump shot to make the score 58-52. Vicky Bullett’s team would have a chance to cut into the lead even more when Sandidge was called for an offensive foul.
UVa-Wise’s defense rose to the challenge as Cluesman stole an entry pass forcing Wesleyan to foul. Sandidge would split a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 59-52, the score would prove to be the final margin as the Bobcats would be unable to capitalize on their final offensive possession.
Wesleyan built its first half lead behind strong defense. UVa-Wise shot just 31.3 percent from the field in the opening quarter, including an 0-5 showing from beyond the arc. The shooting woes carried over to the final minutes of the second quarter as the Cavs made just 10 of 32 field goal attempts and one of 12 3-point attempts for the half.
Kristin Kunzman’s team used its late first half run to propel itself for a much better second half shooting performance. The Cavs shot 50 percent in a third period that saw them outscore the Bobcats 23-14. Freshman Natalie Boothe provided a big spark in the quarter as the Riner, Va. product came off the bench to drain her only two shot attempts, a pair of 3-pointers.
Cluesman also excelled from the perimeter. The redshirt senior made a trio of 3-pointers while handing out three assists in the 10 minute session.
Leading 48-38 to start the fourth period, freshman Cynita Webb helped push the game out of reach. The 5-foot-11 forward scored on consecutive possessions inside to run the lead to 14 at 52-38.
Webb finished the game with six points and seven rebounds on 2-4 shooting. Kayla Carey scored in double figures for the seventh consecutive game as she finished 6-10 from the field en route to 12 points. Sandidge added 11 to join Cluesman who scored a team-high 15 points in double figure scoring.
Cluesman added five rebounds and seven assists while drawing two charges in her 37 minutes of play.
Mari Stewart came off the bench for Wesleyan to lead all players with 18 points. Vandertoolen was the only other Bobcat to register double figures as she finished 5-13 from the field for 10 points. The Bobcats became the first team this season to outrebound the Cavs. Wesleyan won the battle of the boards 41-37. Vandertoolen led the way with nine boards.
The Cavs finished the game 8-23 from the beyond the arc while holding the Bobcats scoreless from the 3-point line. Wesleyan attempted just five long range shots in the loss.
The victory improves UVa-Wise to 7-0 all-time against Wesleyan since the formation of the MEC.
At 3-0 in MEC play, UVa-Wise remains in a first place tie with Wheeling Jesuit. The Cavs will look to win their seventh consecutive game and extend the program’s longest winning streak since the 2005-06 season at Glenville State Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.
BY UVA WISE