CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The enigma continues for the University of Charleston men's basketball team.
The enigma is Wheeling Jesuit always finding a way against the Golden Eagles, extending its record to 6-0 against UC since Mark Downey took over in 2010.
A Joe Prati bucket with 16:08 left in the second half started a 12-2 run and the Cardinals continued their dominance over the Golden Eagles with a 72-62 victory in the quarterfinals of the West Virginia Conference tournament Thursday at the Charleston Civic Center.
"I know I go home and work harder because I'm 0-5 against Danny, 0-6 now," Downey said. "I find myself at night turning on the computer watching a game, I'm not sure why I'm even watching it. I got done scouting State a day and a half so I scouted Wheeling."
The victory sets up an 8:30 p.m. semifinal showdown today with archrival West Liberty (27-1), the top-ranked team in the National Association of Basketball Coaches' NCAA Division II Top 25 poll.
The loss brings to an end a disappointing season for the Golden Eagles (19-9), who outrebounded the Cardinals 44-28, and had 20 offensive boards to four. Charleston had a 24-4 edge in second-chance points, but it wasn't enough with what Downey saw as a lack of toughness, a couple players quitting and his team not listening.
"My teams in the past have not ... have not underachieved like we did tonight," said Downey, whose 2011-12 team reached the Atlantic Region tournament. "Wheeling did what they were supposed to do. They listened, made tough plays. It's extremely frustrating to have a team that doesn't listen to what you're trying to do. It's not everybody."
Charleston held a one-point lead at halftime, and trailed by only 42-41 when Freshman of the Year Justin Fritts hit a 3-pointer with 15:07 left.
Eric Siefert, younger brother of Wheeling Jesuit all-WVC first-team member Ben Siefert, hit a 3 to push the lead to seven. Two more 3-pointers by Fritts, who was 5-of-6 from long range, gave the Cardinals a 58-46 lead with 9:14 left.
"I didn't feel any pressure," said Fritts, who had a team-high 19 points and added three assists and two steals. "I just block that stuff out. It's a 40-minute basketball game."
He had no trouble dealing with the coliseum background, which is notorious for being difficult to shoot in front of.