CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The University of Charleston's game on Monday night against Seton Hill couldn't have been much worse, except for the fact the Golden Eagles put themselves in position to win after struggling for 39 minutes to get into a rhythm.
It didn't matter when the Griffins hit their free throws down the stretch and UC still was looking for its rhythm after the buzzer in a 64-58 West Virginia Conference loss at Eddie King Gym.
The defeat took the luster off UC's 101-96 upset of No. 1 West Liberty last week and ended a seven-game winning streak for Coach Mark Downey's team.
The fact that UC (12-3, 8-3 WVC) played the second half without star point guard Terrell Lipkins didn't help.
"I feel like this win might be the turnaround of our season," said Seton Hill guard Nate Perry, who had 16 points and hit 4-of-9 3-pointers as the Griffins won for just the third time in their last seven games.
"They were missing Lipkins in the second half, but I'm not going to take anything away from us. I don't care if he's in or if he's out. We played great. We executed everything."
Lipkins was suffering from back spasms and didn't return after a two-rebound, two-assist first half. Xavier Humphrey also spent some time on the stationary bike trying to loosen a sore knee, but finished with a team-high 12 points and eight rebounds.
Charleston Coach Mark Downey said Lipkins' absence from the floor - except for 9 minutes of the first half - was some of the cause for his team not being in rhythm, but he said the entire week didn't go well after his team handed West Liberty only the second conference regular-season defeat in its last 64 regular season games.
"It was kind of the perfect storm, we had a lot of guys not ready to go," Downey said. "They're (Seton Hill) a good team, but they're under .500 in the league. They can play, they had Shepherd down at half, they had West Lib down at half, but on your home floor, it's a game you should win."
The Golden Eagles had their second-lowest point total of the first half of any game this season, leading just 28-25 after the first 20 minutes. They had only 27 in a 71-61 loss at home to Fairmont State. Also, UC is 1-2 in games when they score fewer than 70 points.
They couldn't exploit the eagerness of Seton Hill's Malachi Leonard, the league's fifth-best shot blocker, who finished with six.
Aleksander Kesic, who had season highs in points (20) and rebounds (9) against West Liberty, had just five points and three boards in 32 minutes. The Golden Eagles had 13 of their 20 turnovers in a sloppy first half and finished with a season-low five steals. Robbie Dreher had 10 points and four rebounds, but was just 2-of-5 from the free throw line.