Senior forward Deniz Kilicli scored 21 points to lead West Virginia to a 69-59 victory over Marshall in the Chesapeake Energy Capital Classic Wednesday night at the Charleston Civic Center in Charleston, W.Va.
“I think we’re getting better,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “I think guys are starting to understand their roles a little bit.”
The game was problem free until 1:37 left when Marshall’s Robert Goff stuck his leg up in frustration and kicked Juwan Staten after Kilicli’s stick-back basket gave the Mountaineers a 61-54 lead. A brief scuffle ensued and when everything was settled, Goff was ejected as well as Mountaineer players Terry Henderson, Jabarie Hinds, Eron Harris and Aaric Murray for leaving the bench.
“My understanding is that those guys will be able to play,” said Huggins on his post-game radio show. “If the truth be known, those four guys that went out there have never been in a fight in their lives. I don’t know what those guys were doing out there.”
Gary Browne hit both technicals to put West Virginia ahead by nine, 63-54, and after that it was a matter of running out the clock and the rest of the players getting off the floor unscathed.
“I was trying to run clock and get out of here as fast as I could, but it didn’t work out that way,” said Huggins.
Neither team shot the basketball particularly well, West Virginia making 36.7 percent (22 of 60) of its shot attempts while Marshall hitting 35.8 percent (19 of 53).
West Virginia had a big advantage at the free throw line with the Mountaineers hitting 24-of-30 while Marshall only going 12-of-22. WVU also had a big edge in the paint at 38-16 while out rebounding the Herd 43-35. Rebounding was an area Huggins was concerned with coming into tonight’s game.
Marshall had an early 12-7 lead and led by six, 19-13, with 7:27 left in the first half following a Kane dunk, but West Virginia scored the next six to tie the score, and eventually took control with a strong three-minute stretch to end the half.
Murray came alive with a couple of close baskets, Hinds hit a pair of short jumpers, and the Mountaineers got four free throws from Hinds and Kilicli to key West Virginia’s half-ending 12-1 run. West Virginia could have had two more, but Kilicli’s put-back dunk was waved off because it came after the buzzer.
In the second half, West Virginia built its lead to as many as 11, its latest coming with 40 seconds left on a free throw by Kilicli.
Staten scored 12 for the Mountaineers and Hinds added 9 before his early exit.
D.D. Scarver scored 17, Elijah Pittman added 16, and DeAndre Kane contributed 13 for Marshall, now 5-4.
“We’re getting to the ball a little bit better but our rotations are still not very good defensively and our ball movement is not very good on offense, but you’ve got to make some shots,” Huggins said. “When they are standing everybody in the lane daring you to make shots you’ve got to make shots.”
An attendance of 11,512 was announced for tonight’s game.
West Virginia boosts its record to 3-3 and faces undefeated Virginia Tech this Saturday at the Coliseum in a game that has already been announced a sellout. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN.
Tech has already beaten Iowa and Oklahoma State earlier this year.
“They make shots,” said Huggins of the Hokies. “Hopefully they haven’t played against anybody who is going to guard them the way we are going to guard but it should be a great game."