BUCKHANNON – The West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats gave No. 25 Fairmont State a battle before ultimately falling by a 71-61 score tonight in the Mountain East Conference opener for both teams at Rockefeller Center.
Wesleyan shot the ball well, hitting 51 percent of their shots (26-for-51) and held a 37-29 rebounding margin, but the Bobcats made to many self-inflicted errors to stay with the Falcons, committing 24 turnovers in the game.
Down 8-3 early, Luke Layhew made a lay-up, Mo Berchie sank a jumper and Layhew came back with a lay-up, Clay Todd hit a 12-footer and Layhew connected on a short jumper during a 10-0 run for Wesleyan that gave them a 13-8 lead with 13:31 left in the opening half.
Fairmont State countered with an 18-0 run to put them up by a 26-13 score with 5:53 remaining in the opening period.
A Berchie lay-up ended the run at the 5:07 mark and made it a 26-15 game.
Layhew started the scoring in the second half with a lay-up to make it a six-point game, but Fairmont State went on a 16-6 run over the next nine minutes to open up their biggest lead of the game, at 53-37, with 10:58 left.
Kangni and Fred Brondsted both made lay-ups for Wesleyan and after a Fairmont State free throw, Kangni darted inside again for another lay-up to bring the Bobcats to within 11, at 54-43, with 9:09 remaining.
Still down nine at the six-minute mark, Todd and Kangni both scored on lay-ups to make it a seven-point contest, at 58-51, with 5:34 left in the game.
Wesleyan couldn't get any closer though as Fairmont State scored nine of the next 11 points to open up a 67-53 lead with 1:22 left.
The Bobcats outscored Fairmont in the final 1:22 by an 8-4 margin for the final score of 71-61.
Kangni scored a game-high 20 points while Berchie and Layhew each scored 10 points apiece.
Layhew pulled down a game-high nine rebounds while Berchie and Todd each had four assists.
Fairmont State improved to 4-0 overall and 1-0 in the MEC.
Wesleyan dropped 1-2 overall and 0-1 in the MEC.
The Bobcats will return to action Monday evening host the Shepherd University Rams.
The game will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Rockefeller Center.
(Photo courtesy of Brian Bergstrom/The Record Delta)