CHARLETON, W.Va. -- Undefeated and nationally ranked West Liberty awaits the West Virginia State men's basketball team tonight. This is the Yellow Jackets' first road game.
State is coming off an 87-71 loss to Wheeling Jesuit on Saturday, both teams' inaugural Mountain East game on the newly christened Mark Cardwell Court.
State (1-1, 0-1) watched as Wheeling Jesuit played the style Coach Bryan Poore prescribed for his own team.
"They've got a smart team," Poore said of Wheeling Jesuit, which hosts the University of Charleston tonight. "When you overplay or when you don't have a good angle they are going to get by you and penetrate and make you pay for it."
Wheeling Jesuit took a 13point lead into halftime behind 51 percent shooting from the floor. The Cardinals outscored State on fast-break opportunities 17-2 and doubled State on points in the paint, 24-12, at the half.
In the second half, Jesuit stretched the lead to 27 with 10:27 left on the game clock.
"I felt like we were pressing a little bit, which turned into some bad shots," Poore said, "Now when you're taking bad shots and they're getting runouts, the snowball took off and ran down the hill and we couldn't stop it."
Justin Fritts, Ohio's high school Mr. Basketball in 2012 and last year's West Virginia Conference Freshman of the Year, led all scorers with 30 points for Wheeling Jesuit. Fritts finished the game with 10 assists and seven rebounds, falling short of a triple-double "He's a silent assassin," Poore said. "He's a solid player."
State's MEC debut started out rocky with the Yellow Jackets shooting 37 percent from the floor. Still, there were bright spots for the Yellow Jackets that came in the form of a pair of freshmen.
State went on a 14-2 run late in the second half sparked by guard Angelo Sirianni and forward Ben Pannell - both collegiate rookies. Pannell hit 3-pointers on consecutive trips down the floor and Sirianni added three 3s late in the second half.