CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If Charleston coach Mark Downey stays at UC long enough, the law of averages says the Golden Eagles will eventually beat Wheeling Jesuit at some point.
But in the biggest of spots on Thursday, Downey's winless streak against the Cardinals continued.
After trailing by as many as 11 points in the first half, Jesuit settled into its zone defense that left Charleston without many answers and the Cardinals ran away with a 72-62 win in a West Virginia Conference men's quarterfinal game at the Charleston Civic Center.
Downey is now 0-6 against Wheeling Jesuit in his three-year stint at UC, including a loss in the NCAA Atlantic Region to end the Golden Eagles' season last year.
But fresh wounds bleed the most, and there was no hiding the disappointment stemming from UC's latest shortcoming against the Cardinals.
"I'm not used to this in a wide array of aspects," Downey said. "I'm very disappointed in that effort. My teams in the past have not underachieved like we did tonight. Give credit to Wheeling, those guys are tough, they do what they're supposed to do, they listen, make tough plays, and they do what their game plan says to do. Most teams who win do that and we didn't."
Early, UC had it going downhill and were firing on all cylinders.
Xavier Humphrey scored 11 points and Terrell Lipkins 12 in the first half as Charleston shot a respectable 45.2 percent and built an 11-point lead.
But toward the end of the first half, Jesuit started turning back the tide and trailed by only one point at 37-36.
After the break, the Cardinals stayed hot and UC didn't keep pace, as the Golden Eagles made just 23.5 percent of their shots in the second half.
"I told our guys, 'We just can't turn the ball over and give them second-chance points,' " Wheeling coach Danny Sancomb said. "I preach to our guys about toughness and after [a first-half] timeout we went on a nice run and finished the half. It's our guys. They know what to do out there and our guys are going to continue to fight and battle."
WVC freshman of the year Justin Fritts didn't take long to adjust to playing under the conference's brightest lights.
Fritts finished with a team-best 19 points, including eight straight Jesuit points midway through the second half that pushed the Cardinals' lead briefly to 12, their largest of the game.
"Being freshman of the year, I didn't feel any pressure and I try to block that stuff out," Fritts said. "When it gets down to it, you've got a 40-minute basketball game and we're basically fighting for our lives out there."