COLUMBUS, Miss. – The Owls men's basketball team played hard ball against NAIA opponent Wiley College on Sunday, Nov. 14. The W made several improvements like increasing its 3-point percentage and its field goal percentage but it was not enough to take down the Red River Conference No. 2 ranked Wildcats. The Owls fell 73-59 in Emma 'Ody' Pohl Gymnasium in Sunday's competition.
Jonte Moultrie led the Owls against the Wildcats going 4-for-7 from the field, 1-for-3 behind the arch, and 3-for-4 at the line for 12 points. The Ocean Springs, Miss. native also brought down three rebounds with one assist and one steal.
Off the bench, junior guard Carlos Wilkerson scored 11 points for The W. The Cottondale, Ala. native went 4-for-6 from the field with two shots made in 3-point range and one shot made at the free-throw line. He also grabbed three rebounds and one block.
Leading the Owls in rebounds, senior forward DJ Clark brought down 11 boards, 10 of which were defensive. He also recorded five points with three assists and two steals.
Tavonta Jones started the game off with a bang for the Owls, making a 3-pointer just nine seconds after tip-off. The Owls held that lead for a couple of minutes before a Wildcat 3-pointer and layup allowed Wiley to pull ahead of The W, 9-8.
The two team traded shots but the Wildcats shots fell with more accuracy. Wiley went on a 9-point run before the Owls were able to score again. The W continued to push back against the Wildcats offense but struggled to close the gap.
The Owls closed the half 14 points behind Wiley, 34-20.
Entering the game off the bench, Wilkerson caught fire for the Owls with back-to-back 3-pointers and a free throw to put the lead in striking distance for his team, 47-44.
The Wildcats answered shortly after and continued to make shot after shot to pull ahead 10-points.
The Owls continued to fight but were unable to reclaim the lead to fall 73-59.
As a team, the Owls shot 35.6 percent from the field, 32.0 percent from the free-throw line and 64.3 percent at the free-throw line.
Wiley showed their experience on the floor to shoot 40.0 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from behind the arch, and 87.5 percent at the free-throw line.
"I was really pleased with our effort tonight," said head coach Brian Merkel. "We played really hard for 40 minutes, just couldn't get a shot to fall in that first half. I've got to continue to find ways to maintain momentum throughout the first half to put us in a position to capitalize on our second half efforts. We will be ready to go come Tuesday night in New Orleans."
The Owls will be back in action on Tuesday, Nov. 20 when they travel to New Orleans, La. for their first official road game of the season. The W will take on Southern University – New Orleans inside of the Health and Physical Education Building, also known as the Castle, for a 7:30 tip-off time.