WVU Falls on the Road

  • January 10, 2009 03:04 PM
  • |
By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
January 10, 2009

#22 West Virginia 53, #15 Marquette 75
bradley center
milwaukee, wisc.
West Virginia
Stat Comparison
FG Made-Att
FG Percentage
3P Made-Att
3P Percentage
FT Made-Att
FT Percentage
Top WVU Players
Top Scorer
Top Rebounder
Da'Sean Butler
16 Points
Kevin Jones
6 Rebounds

Jerel McNeal scored 26 points and Dominic James added 17 points and seven assists to lead No. 15 Marquette to a 75-53 victory over No. 22 West Virginia Saturday afternoon at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee.

It was West Virginia’s second straight loss after dropping a 61-55 decision to No. 5 Connecticut at the WVU Coliseum earlier this week.

“We can’t continue to score 53 points and win in this league – it’s just not going to happen,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins.

Marquette (15-2, 4-0) took control of the game when West Virginia’s Da’Sean Butler went to the bench with his fourth foul with 16:37 to go and the Mountaineers leading 35-33. Butler returned to the floor with 7:04 left and picked up his fifth foul 48 seconds later climbing Dwight Burke’s back on James’ miss.

“There was no use leaving Da’Sean over there until the game gets out of hand. You’ve got to play him,” Huggins said. “We’ve got to have him on the floor.”

After Butler picked up his fourth foul, the Golden Eagles scored eight straight points to take a 40-35 lead; West Virginia answered with six straight to retake the lead on a Kevin Jones basket. WVU trailed 51-48 when Marquette used a 10-0 run to build a 13-point margin with 5:21 remaining.

West Virginia managed just two field goals over the final 7:58 to endure its worst loss of the season.

“It’s an eight-point game and we miss a lay up. We miss a follow up shot and then I think it’s a seven-point game and we miss another lay up,” Huggins said. “You have to score the ball. Nobody has ever won and not scored with it.”

Marquette, missing 16 of its first 19 field goal attempts to start the game, finished 23 of 56 overall for 41.1 percent. The Golden Eagles shot 52 percent in the second half.

Marquette took advantage of the Mountaineers at the free throw line, making 24 of 27 compared to West Virginia’s 6 of 10 from the line. The Golden Eagles also had a 37-35 edge on the glass, including grabbing 12 offensive rebounds.

“We got out-rebounded by a team that basically plays four guards,” Huggins said. “Da’sean gets his third foul because the ball is in one of our guy’s hands and he doesn’t secure it.”

Butler scored all of his 16 points in the first half while Alex Ruoff finished with 13 points on 4 of 12 shooting. Ruoff had to play point guard for a good portion of the game because of the ineffective play of freshman point guard Truck Bryant against Marquette’s senior backcourt trio of James, McNeal and Wesley Matthews.

Bryant drew two quick charging fouls and was relegated to the bench. The Mountaineers had six fouls by the first media timeout, but were able to avoid getting Marquette into the bonus until 6:58 remaining.

“This league is hard when you’re playing freshmen,” Huggins said. “They’re playing four seniors and a junior in their starting lineup and they’re bringing juniors off the bench. We’re relying on freshmen.

“If the Connecticut loss didn’t make them understand then maybe this one did. You have to prepare to win. You just can’t show up and win in this league, particularly a team like ours that is undermanned,” Huggins said.

West Virginia’s biggest lead was eight, 21-13, following a Ruoff 3 and led 31-29 at halftime after Da’Sean Butler sank a step-back 3 just ahead of the halftime horn.

Comfortably ahead by 17 points with two minutes remaining, Marquette continued on with its starters getting driving lay ups by James and McNeal, and a late 3 from James with 24 seconds left to turn the game into a 22-point rout.

“At the end they were having fun,” Huggins said.

West Virginia (11-4, 1-2) steps outside of conference play one final time facing Marshall on Wednesday night in Charleston before returning to league play on Saturday afternoon against USF at the Coliseum.