BUCKHANNON – The West Virginia Wesleyan men's basketball team made their 2014 home debut against Fairmont State University here today in a Mountain East Conference contest.
It was also the home debut for first-year head coach Gary Nottingham.
The 'Cats put up an excellent battle against the Falcons but dropped a 66-57 decision.
A Tanner McGrew lay-up gave Wesleyan an early 7-4 lead with 4:10 gone in the first half.
Fairmont State scored the next four points, but a Chris Dewberry lay-up returned the lead to Wesleyan at 9-8 with 13:12 remaining in the first half.
It would be the last lead though Wesleyan would own.
Fairmont State rattled off the next eight points to take a 16-9 advantage with 10:33 showing on the first-quarter clock.
The Falcons pushed their lead to eight at 27-19 with 3:59 left in the opening half but Anthony Richards drained a three-pointer and Taylor Price made a lay-up to end the first half and bring Wesleyan to within three at 27-24.
A Garrett Grantham (pictured) lay-up brought Wesleyan to within one at 27-26 to begin the second half.
The two teams would trade baskets as Wesleyan still found themselves down by one, at 33-32, with 14:12 remaining.
Fairmont State turned up the defensive pressure pressing the 'Cats as Wesleyan turned the ball over on four straight possession as Fairmont State pushed that one-point lead into a 45-32 lead after scoring 12 straight points.
McGrew made a lay-up for Wesleyan to end the run making it a 45-34 game.
The Falcons had their biggest lead of the game at 15, at 61-46 with 4:36 left on the clock.
Ja'Sahn Johnson made two free throws, McGrew drained a pair of free throws and Grantham unleashed a three-pointer that made it a 61-53 contest with 3:16 left.
Wesleyan couldn't any closer those as the two teams traded points down the stretch.
McGrew had a double-double for the 'Cats scoring 13 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.
Wesleyan had two other players reach double digits in scoring – Price with 11 and Dewberry with 10.
Wesleyan shot 32.7 percent from the floor hitting on 18 of their 55 field goals.
The 'Cats outrebounded Fairmont State by a 42-36 margin.
The Bobcats dropped to 1-3 overall and 0-1 in the MEC.
Fairmont State improved to 5-0 overall and 1-0 in the MEC.
Wesleyan will return to action Monday as they travel to Shepherd for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.
(Photo courtesy of Peter Galarneau Jr.)