BUCKHANNON — The West Virginia Wesleyan College Bobcats men’s basketball team (1-11, 0-6 MEC) welcomed the University of Charleston Golden Eagles to Buckhannon’s Rockefeller Center on the night of Wednesday, January 5. The Bobcats saw their stretch of early season woes continue, dropping the home game by a final score of 89-74 to the Golden Eagles.
The Bobcats were led offensively by the duo senior guard Tommie Pope and redshirt freshman Jayden Hibbett. The duo combined for 48 of the Bobcats 74 points, with Hibbitt pacing the team with 25 points and Pope recording a career-high 23 points in the loss. Pope dished out 5 assists, pulled down 5 rebounds, and nabbed 3 steals, to complement his best scoring outing of his college career thus far. For Hibbitt, this game was his seventh this season in which he had surpassed the 20-point threshold. Junior guard Braeden McGrew reach double-digit scoring numbers, netting 10 points to go along with 5 rebounds.
The Bobcats struggled to contain the Golden Eagles’ senior guard Keith Williams, allowing him to score seemingly at will on his way to 23 points. Junior wing Eddie Colbert, turned in an all-around strong performance, narrowly missing out on a double-double with 19 points, 8 rebounds to go along with 4 assists and two steals.
In the first quarter, the Bobcats wasted no time getting the night’s scoring started, going up 4-0 early after McGrew and Pope hit the game’s first two field goals. The Golden Eagles responded with a 13-0 run to seize control of the game, building a 9-point lead. Pope stopped the bleeding by hitting a deep three, his only made field goal of the night from deep to end the Golden Eagles’ scoring run. With the Bobcats facing a 12-point deficit, a Tyler Slone three found the mark to cut the Golden Eagles’ lead to single digits. Moments later, Hibbitt managed to finish a put back layup to cut the Golden Eagles’ lead to just 7 with 3:33 left in the first half. Pope continued to be aggressive, hitting a floater to bring his first half point total to 19 and bring the Bobcats within 5 points. This was followed by a McGrew jumper with only 40 seconds remaining in the first half that cut the decicit to just 2. However, the Golden Eagles closed out the half with a 4-0 run in the half’s final 40 seconds to take a 7-point, 52-45 lead into the locker-room for halftime.
While the Bobcats managed to get within four a few more times, following made field goals from Hibbitt and John Ibukunoluwa, respectively; they never seemed to be able to get over the hump and take the lead back from the Golden Eagles. During one stretch of the second half, Hibbitt scored five consecutive points to bring the Bobcats within four with just over 14 minutes left to play. Following that stretch, the Golden Eagles responded with a run to build their lead back up to double digits with a little over 10:00 minutes remaining. Despite Hibbitt going on a second half tear, putting up 14 of his 25 points in the second half, the Bobcats couldn’t string together enough stops defensively to mount a serious run at the Golden Eagles lead, falling short in the end 89-74.