Second Half Surge

  • December 06, 2008 03:49 PM
  • |
By Steve Stone for MSNsportsNET.com
December 6, 2008

West Virginia 53 Cleveland State 43
wvu coliseum
Morgantown, w.va.
Cleveland State 25 18 43
West Virginia 21 32 53
Stat Comparison
FG Made-Att 17-51 18-52
FG Percentage 33.3% 34.6%
3P Made-Att 4-16 2-16
3P Percentage 25.0% 12.5%
FT Made-Att 5-9 15-21
FT Percentage 55.6% 71.4%
Rebounds 37 38
Turnovers 21 14
Top WVU Players
Top Scorer
Top Rebounder
Da'Sean Butler
18 Points
Devin Ebanks
17 Rebounds

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A strong second half defensive performance propelled West Virginia to a 53-43 victory over Cleveland State on Saturday afternoon at the WVU Coliseum.

After a poor first half of play, the Mountaineers (6-1) executed their game plan much better in the second half. WVU suffocated the Vikings (5-4) with its man-to-man pressure, forcing CSU to commit 21 turnovers while holding the Vikings to 33.3 percent shooting.

Da’Sean Butler paced WVU with 18 points on 7 of 16 shooting, leading the Mountaineers in scoring for the second straight contest. Devin Ebanks put forth a workmanlike double-double effort, tallying 10 points along with a game-high 17 rebounds.

WVU received contributions from almost its entire bench with as many as 12 players seeing some action. Starting point guard Joe Mazzulla was held out of the game after sustaining a bruised shoulder during Wednesday night’s win at Mississippi. Starting in Mazzulla’s place was freshman Truck Bryant, who played just 12 minutes, scoring three points and committing three turnovers.

The Mountaineers were able to cash in from the free throw line in the second half, making 15 of 18 from the charity to help extend their lead and counter their 29 percent second-half shooting.

The Mountaineers were a season-best 15 of 21 (71.4 percent) overall from the line. WVU also scored nearly half of its points off turnovers, getting 24 off Viking miscues.

Defensively, WVU recorded 10 blocked shots. John Flowers led with four swats in 16 minutes of action, while Ebanks followed with two blocks and three steals.

Senior guard Alex Ruoff became the 45th Mountaineer to score 1,000 career points, achieving the feat with a layup at the 8:19 mark in the first half. The Spring Hill, Fla., native finished with five points on 2 of 4 shooting.

“I think Alex Ruoff and Butler are great examples of what can happen if you work,” Coach Bob Huggins said. “If we tried to put Alex on their point guard a year ago, it would have been a layup line. He works hard now and he’s moving his feet, and those are our two hardest working guys.”

WVU took its second lead of the game with 17:15 left when Jonnie West hit a momentum-changing 3-pointer from the left baseline, giving the Mountaineers a 30-28 advantage. They followed with a 19-8 run, reaching a double-digit lead with 5:48 remaining when Ruoff’s free throw put WVU ahead by 10.

WVU trailed at halftime, 25-21, after committing 11 turnovers and shooting 40 percent (10 of 25) from the field. CSU used a confusing 2-1-2 full court press to rattle the Mountaineers.

West Virginia led just once in the first half at 4-2 after Ebanks used a shot fake from the left elbow and finished with a dunk. The Long Island City, N.Y., native recorded an impressive 10 rebounds through the first half.

Butler led WVU with six points on 3 of 5 shooting at the half, while Kevin Jones came off the bench and provided four points in 10 minutes.

“In all honestly, we didn’t hardly look to shoot. We weren’t assertive enough,” Huggins said. “We’re still not there, and we got a long ways to go at both ends of the floor. I still think we’re still going to be a good team, but we got a ways to go.”

Cleveland State was led by Norris Cole, who totaled 12 points on 5 of 9 shooting. Reigning Horizon League Player of the Week J’Nathan Bullock was held to eight points on 3 of 8 shooting.

WVU returns to action with a nationally-televised contest against No. 22 Davidson as part of the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m. at Madison Square Garden.