CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Damier Pitts scored 25 points and DeAndre Kane added 18 to lead Marshall to a 75-71 victory over 21st-ranked West Virginia Wednesday night in the Chesapeake Energy Capital Classic played at the Charleston Civic Center in Charleston, W.Va.
"We didn't do what we needed to do to win," said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. "They were more ready to play."
Marshall (13-5) took advantage of West Virginia’s cold shooting, particularly during an 11-minute stretch between the two halves when the Mountaineers made just one field goal attempt.
West Virginia (12-5) had an 18-13 with 8:28 left in the first half on Deniz Kilicli’s layup when the lid went on the basket. Marshall outscored West Virginia 22-3 over the remaining 8:28 to take a 35-21 lead at halftime.
And the start of the second half was no better for West Virginia as the Mountaineers were outscored 9-0 before Casey Mitchell finally ended the drought with a 3 with 16:52 remaining.
Marshall’s biggest lead was 24 at 47-23.
West Virginia was able to reduce its deficit to seven, 53-46, when Mitchell was fouled by Shaquille Johnson attempting a three. He managed to convert all three free throws with 8:03 showing on the clock.
But Kane responded with a three-point play when he was fouled by John Flowers while going to rim. Kane’s basket and free throw put the Herd back up by 10.
West Virginia made one more run with less than a minute to play, eventually getting it down to three when Truck Bryant was able to make three free throws after being fouled behind the 3-point arc by Johnny Higgins.
But once again Marshall answered when Pitts hit both of his free throws on the other end to make it a five-point game.
"Pitts did a great job," said Huggins.
When the remaining seconds ticked off the clock the Marshall students rushed the court in celebration of its first win over West Virginia in five years.
The Mountaineers shot 33.3% from the floor (19 of 57), including 29.2% from 3 (7 of 24).
Marshall was able to make slightly more, hitting 40% overall with eight of its field goal attempts coming from 3.
Mitchell led the Mountaineers with 18 points while Flowers added 16 points and seven rebounds. Guard Joe Mazzulla was the team’s leading rebounder with eight to go with 10 points. Bryant also scored 10 for West Virginia.
"I have a hard time getting through to these guys that if we don't play together and play as hard as we are capable of playing we're not going to win," said Huggins.
A combined 64 fouls were called in the game leading to 70 free throw attempts by both teams. In the last four games the two teams have committed 210 fouls and shot 245 free throws.
West Virginia resumes Big East play on Sunday at the Coliseum when it plays host to USF in a 2 p.m. game that will be televised on the Big East Network. Marshall continues Conference USA action with a game at the Henderson Center on Saturday against East Carolina.