BUCKHANNON - West Virginia Wesleyan opened the Pat Beilein era Friday night, defeating the visiting Shenandoah University squad 79-54. The Bobcats put four different players in double figures.
Noah Cottrill led the Wesleyan attack with 22 points, followed by Soren Dossing with 16, Kelsey Williams 15, and T.J. Thompson 10. Williams led all rebounders with seven, with Cottrill contributing a game-high seven assists.
Wesleyan relied on their defense in the first half, as they could only connect on 4-of-15 three pointers in the first half. At intermission, the lead stood at 30-20 after a buzzer-beating three-pointer from senior Caleb Ashley.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Andrew Ferguson
Wesleyan’s Noah Cottrill looks to dribble past Shenandoah’s Corey Levenberry Friday in Wesleyan’s 79-54 win.
"We were a little off with our timing the first eight minutes of the game," Beilein said. "We were simply a little lackadaisical with our energy and our cuts, and that had a lot to do with the shots not falling. That is to be expected in a first game with a new system. Once we settled down and regained our focus, the shots started falling."
Wesleyan gradually pulled away in the second half, spearheaded by 9-of-16 shots from beyond the arc. The Bobcats also did a tremendous job of limiting Shenandoah to one-shot possessions by dominating the defensive glass. Wesleyan ended the night with a 50-28 edge in total rebounds.
For the night, Wesleyan shot 26-of-51 (5 percent) including 13-of-31 (41.9 percent) from three-point range. On the defensive end, they held Shenandoah to 20-of-62 (32.2 percent) shooting. Jarren Carithers was the top SU scorer with 17 points.
"They run an offense that is difficult to defend," Beilein said. "I felt that we gave a good effort defensively and we were able to rebound well on both end of the court."
Ashley contributed six points off the bench, while Jefferson County native Garrett Grantham delivered five points during a key second half run. With Cottrill, Dossing, Grantham, and Chris Dewberry, the freshmen on the Bobcat roster accounted for 46 of the team's points on opening night.
"We have some guys in that group who can make shots," Beilein said. "It was nice to see young guys like Chris and Garrett come off and give us a lift as well."
With Williams appearing to be fully recovered from his injuries that plagued the second half of last season, the inside game is looking strong for the Bobcats as well. Beilein will be needing the unit hitting on all cylinders as it tackles the final season of the historic WVIAC.
No test should be bigger than the next game; a Nov. 20 road trip to the number one team in the country when they visit West Liberty.