WHEELING, W. Va. – Urbana University led Wheeling Jesuit at halftime Saturday afternoon, but the visiting Blue Knights succumbed to a hot-shooting Cardinals’ squad in the second half, falling 87-76 in the MEC men’s basketball opener for both teams.
Sophomore Carlas Jackson scored a game-high 25 points, including a 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions with 2:08 remaining to get UU within six points at 79-73. That was the closest UU got to WJU in the second half, though, as the Cardinals held on down the stretch.
Jackson finished two points shy of his career-high scoring mark, going 4 of 9 from three-point range and 7 of 15 overall from the field. He also went a perfect 7 of 7 on free-throw attempts.
Three other Blue Knights reached double figures in the scoring column, including UU’s leading scorer Jahmere Howze, who poured in 18 points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked two shots.
The freshman forward is now averaging 18 points through his first four collegiate games.
Senior Mike Newton scored 12 points for his third straight outing in double digits, while sharp-shooter Matt Csuhran knocked down three 3-pointers and a pair of free throws to total 11 points.
As a team, UU shot a season-low 41 percent on field-goal attempts, but the Blue Knights were decent from three-point range at 48 percent (10 of 21). The Blue Knights struggled mightily on the glass and were out-rebounded by a decisive margin of 47-27.
It seemed as if WJU responded on every UU bucket in this one, especially from deep, where the Cardinals went 7 of 11 over the final 20 minutes to prevent any UU momentum from building.
UU built its largest lead of the game on a Csuhran three with 7:11 left in the first half, but the Cardinals immediately answered on the other end to tie the score at 25-25.
WJU ended up putting together a 9-0 run to go up 31-25, until a pair of Jackson free throws stopped the run at 4:19.
The Cardinals ended up going ahead 36-29, but the Blue Knights used a quick 8-0 run capped by a Chris Freeman layup with under a minute left to give the Blue Knights a 37-36 lead at the break.
WJU came out of the locker room gunning, and put together a 14-2 run over five minutes to move ahead 50-39 with 15:24 left.
A little over five minutes later, WJU drilled back-to-back 3-pointers for its largest lead of 17 points and seemed to be well on its way to victory with a 62-45 lead with 9:59 on the clock.
But the Blue Knights kept chipping away.
A Newton three-point play made it 62-51, and then Howze knocked down two free throws to trim the lead to single digits at 64-55 with 8:15 left.
Howze, who finished 6 of 7 from the line, hit another free throw to make it 68-60, then Csuhran’s three at the 3:47 mark got the deficit to seven at 74-67.
Jackson’s pair of three’s came soon after that, but it was too little too late for the Blue Knights.
UU returns to the Grimes Center on Monday for its first MEC home game against No. 3 West Liberty. Tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. following the women’s game.