WVU Outlasts Duquesne

  • December 13, 2008 11:47 PM
  • |
By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
December 13, 2008

West Virginia 68, Duquesne 63
aj palumbo center
pittsburgh, pa
West Virginia 27 41 68
Duquesne 35 28 63
Stat Comparison
FG Made-Att 26-70 21-54
FG Percentage 37.1% 38.9%
3P Made-Att 3-23 6-21
3P Percentage 13.0% 28.6%
FT Made-Att 13-20 15-19
FT Percentage 65.0% 78.9%
Rebounds 53 31
Turnovers 15 14
Top WVU Players
Top Scorer
Top Rebounder
Truck Bryant
18 Points
Devin Ebanks / John Flowers
10 Rebounds

Freshman Truck Bryant scored 18 points and made six key free throws late in the second half to help West Virginia defeat Duquesne 68-63 Saturday night at the A.J. Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh.

West Virginia (7-2) was once again without its starting backcourt of Alex Ruoff and Joe Mazzulla, who are both nursing injuries. For the second straight game West Virginia coach Bob Huggins used a starting lineup that included John Flowers at forward and Truck Bryant at point guard, with Da’Sean Butler moving into the backcourt with Bryant.

“It was ugly,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “I hope people don’t think I enjoy that because I don’t. I just as soon watch the ball go through the goal but we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. I’m a big believer in you’ve got to win every game that you’re supposed to. This is one we’re supposed to win and we really needed to win.”

In the first half West Virginia had trouble making shots and fell behind by double figures to Duquesne, 2-0 at the A.J Palumbo Center coming into tonight's game.

But the Mountaineers were able to get a clutch basket from Wellington Smith right before the end of the half to cut Duquesne’s lead to eight and the Mountaineers used a smothering defense to force Duquesne to miss its first 13 field goal attempts of the second half.

“We were so tentative in the first half. I thought we were borderline scared,” Huggins said. “We didn’t move the ball. We weren’t crisp. Our cuts weren’t hard, we didn’t curl into shots, we didn’t step into shots and in the second half our ball movement was so much better; we swung the ball, we stepped into shots and we put pressure on the rim.”

West Virginia built its lead to six and then to nine points before the Dukes used a full-court press to score seven straight points to reduce West Virginia’s lead to two.

“We did some dumb things along the way. Against the pressure we throw it to them twice and get them back in the game but we hung in there,” said Huggins.

A key basket in the game came with 1:22 remaining when Butler managed to hit a jumper to put the Mountaineers back up by four.

Leading by four with 16 seconds left, Bryant converted a pair of free throws. Devin Ebanks hit another pair with 10 seconds remaining and Bryant iced the game with two more with 0.8 seconds left on the clock.

West Virginia’s freshmen trio of Bryant, Ebanks and Kevin Jones scored 42 of West Virginia’s 68 points.

Ebanks finished with a career high 15 points to go with 10 rebounds. Ebanks has now pulled down 44 rebounds in his last three games.

“I thought he was aggressive attacking the rim. If he ever starts making shots he’s going to be a pretty good player and he’s had good looks,” Huggins said. “In the second half I thought he shot it with some confidence.”

Jones scored 9 points and grabbed six rebounds coming off the bench. John Flowers was credited with 10 rebounds and Wellington Smith finished with 12 points and seven boards.

West Virginia had a 53-31 advantage on the glass against Duquesne and has grabbed 55 offensive rebounds in its last two games. The Mountaineers shot just 37.1 percent from the floor including a frigid 13 percent (3 of 23) from 3-point range.

Aaron Jackson led the Dukes with 10 points; Damian Saunders scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Duquesne drops to 5-3.

West Virginia has now won six straight against Duquesne including the last three times the Mountaineers have played the Dukes in Pittsburgh.

“We had a bunch of guys make some plays that we really needed and fortunately they got couple of rebounds and tried to go too fast and lost the ball out of bounds,” Huggins said.

“I’m just happy to get out of here with a win.”

West Virginia has a week off to heal before facing Miami, Ohio at the Coliseum on Saturday at Noon in a game that will air on ESPNU.

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