Losing early games can be difficult to watch, and it doesn’t help your postseason tournament qualifications, but many lessons can be learned from these and West Virginia fans hope its basketball team learned a lesson today.
West Virginia (1-2) went cold from the floor at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half, and then couldn’t convert some big free throws down the stretch to fall, 63-60, to Davidson this afternoon in the Old Spice Classic at HP Field House in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
“We take 60 shots, they take 41, we take 17 free throws and they take 22, and we are 8 for 17 and they are 17 for 22, so absolutely (missed free throws) is a factor in the game,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “It pretty much is the game.”
Davidson advances to Sunday’s championship game to play either Gonzaga or Oklahoma, while West Virginia will play in the consolation game against either Oklahoma or Gonzaga at 4:30 p.m. in a game that will be televised on ESPNU.
This one was ripe for the picking - especially after the Mountaineers built a 30-22 lead following a pair of Juwan Staten
free throws with 3:11 left. But from there West Virginia couldn’t find its shooting stroke. WVU was 1 of 7 for the remainder of the half and then started the second half by missing its first nine shots before Gary Browne
ended the drought with a driving layup with 13:01 remaining.
“Early foul trouble took us out of what we wanted to do,” said Huggins.
Davidson (3-2) used that cold spell by West Virginia to go on a 17-2 run to take control of the game. The Wildcats led by as many as 11 - the latest coming with 8:02 left on a pair De’Mon Brooks free throws.
From there West Virginia was able to chip away at Davidson’s lead, cutting it to five, 51-46, on a 3 from by Browne from behind the NBA 3-point line. A Deniz Kilicli
follow-up basket with 3:45 left cut the Davidson lead to four, 55-51, and West Virginia got its deficit to three, 58-55, on a driving layup by Staten.
After Davidson’s Chris Czerapowicz was left alone in the right corner for a wide open 3, freshman Terry Henderson
answered with his second 3 of the game from the other corner with 13.6 seconds to go to make it 61-60, Davidson. West Virginia immediately called its final timeout to set up its defense and after fouling Chris Cochran, a career 87-percent free throw shooter, the Wildcats made it 63-60 on his two makes.
On the Mountaineers’ final possession Staten took a handoff from Matt Humphrey
on the left wing and launched a deep 3 that would've tied the game. It drew iron but didn’t fall.
Czerapowicz led the Wildcats with 15, while Brooks scored 12 and Jake Cohen and Clint Mann added 11 each.
The Wildcats hit 20 of 41 from the floor, including 6 of 16 from 3, and made 17 of 22 from the free throw line to help them overcome 20 turnovers.
West Virginia got 15 points from Staten and 11 off the bench from Browne. Jabarie Hinds
scored 8 first-half points but saw little action in the second half.
“We have yet to grasp the concept that you have to play every play,” said Huggins. “You can’t take plays off. We’ve got some guys who can do some things, but individually we are not very good. But we can be very good collectively – if we will.
“You can’t continually throw the ball two feet from the basket and come up empty, you can’t continually come down in transition and come up empty and we’ve got to do a much better job of rebounding the ball,” said Huggins.
West Virginia made just 8 of 17 from the free throw line and also finished the afternoon 4 of 13 from behind the 3-point arc, negating a 35-26 rebounding advantage for the Mountaineers. Kilicli and Aaric Murray
grabbed 19 of those, but Murray fouled out with 1:56 left while Kilicli was saddled with foul trouble for most of the game.
“I’m down to three bigs and we can’t make dumb fouls when we only have three bigs right now,” said Huggins. “You can’t give away fouls and we were kind of handicapped because of it.”