Urbana University led seventh-ranked Wheeling Jesuit by a point at halftime, but couldn’t hold on in a 97-87 loss Saturday night at the Grimes Center.
UU moves to 2-2 overall and Wheeling Jesuit remains unbeaten at 4-0 after the Mountain East Conference opener for both squads.
For the second time this season, UU had six players score in double figures. Junior transfer Charles Sweatt-Washington led the way with 17 points in 19 minutes off the bench. Sophomore Jahmere Howze recorded the first UU double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 boards.
In his first start, freshman Jagger Surface poured in a career-high 15 points. He went 5 of 9 from the field and knocked down three 3-pointers. Carlas Jackson added 14 points while DeQuan Abrom and Demetrius Carr each chipped in with 11 points. AJ Washington hauled down 10 boards.
UU shot 47 percent and turned the ball over only three times in a narrow opening period that saw the Blue Knights lead all but 23 seconds.
UU came out guns blazing to build an early 10-3 lead at the 16:46 mark and then built its largest lead of the game with 7:33 until halftime off a Carr jumper, making the score 30-22.
However, Wheeling kept the lead in single digits and trailed oly 41-40 at the break.
The second half remained back-and-forth action as the Blue Knights continued to hold a lead. Jackson’s jumper at 14:37 gave UU a five-point lead at 56-51, as the Blue Knights held on to that advantage over the next five minutes.
A Carr jumper tied the score at 66-66 with just under 10 minutes remaining in the game, but things began to shift toward Wheeling’s way.
The visitors took the lead for good on a pair of free throws at the 9:17 mark and went ahead by as much as 12 down the final stretch.
The Blue Knights couldn’t generate a defensive stop, and shot below 40 percent in the half. Nine turnovers also proved costly as WJU outscored UU 14-2 with points off of miscues over the final 20 minutes.
Both teams struggled from three-point range, as UU finished 5 of 25 (20 percent) and WJU made 6 of 19 (32 percent).
UU held the rebounding edge 41-38, but WJU attempted 19 more free throws than the Blue Knights. The Cardinals went 31 of 42 at the line while the Knights were 20 of 23.
UU returns to the hardwood Monday night for a road game at No. 1 West Liberty in league action. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.