CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The pendulum of momentum is swinging away from where University of Charleston men's basketball coach Dwaine Osborne wants it for his Golden Eagles.
UC has followed an eight-game winning streak with two straight losses, the latest coming Monday night in an 88-80 setback to Wheeling Jesuit University at Eddie King Gym. The Cardinals were a portrait of offensive efficiency, shooting 57.4 percent from the floor and recording 26 assists on 31 field goals.
Those numbers added up to a frustrating night for Osborne and the Golden Eagles.
"I don't think tonight we were necessarily that far off," Osborne said. "We just weren't very efficient. At the end of the day, when you think about that, I thought we were subpar on offense, but we scored 80 points. The problem was we gave up 18 or 19 points above what we normally do."
Xavier Humphrey led Charleston with 17 points, but made just six of 20 shots and five of 14 from 3-point range Monday night. Fred Simpson and Aleksander Kesic each added 15. WJU's Justin Fritts led all scorers with 19 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including four of seven from 3-point range.
The moments when UC (13-6, 10-5 Mountain East Conference) led in Monday's game were fleeting. The last one came with 16:12 left in the game. Three seconds earlier, Golden Eagles senior guard Baptiste Boucharel hit a pair of free throws to give Charleston a 47-45 advantage. Kyle Ritz responded with a dunk to tie the game at 47, and the Cardinals went on a 9-0 run to lead 54-47 with 13:54 left.
For the rest of the game, Charleston chased after that Wheeling Jesuit lead, climbing closer, only to be pushed away again by a timely Cardinals 3-pointer or quick pass to an awaiting WJU player for a layup. The closest the Eagles came was within three points, the last instance with 3:31 left in the game. UC's struggles on second shots didn't help. The Golden Eagles pulled down 14 offensive rebounds against Wheeling Jesuit (9-9, 8-7 MEC), but could convert them into just 10 second-chance points.
Monday's game was a totally different story for both teams compared to their first meeting, a 64-56 UC win on Nov. 25 in Wheeling where the Eagles held the Cardinals to 15 first-half points and 34.5-percent shooting for the game. WJU coach Dan Sancomb said his team needed to get back to what it did best, which was absent in that first game.