MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Aaric Murray
came off the bench to score 12 points and grab 10 rebounds to lead West Virginia to a 76-71 victory over Oakland Wednesday night at the WVU Coliseum.
West Virginia (5-5) trailed by as many as eight points in the first half, and by as many as seven early in the second half, before Murray keyed a strong finish for the Mountaineers.
“We don’t sustain things and we didn’t rebound the ball,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins of his team’s 34-32 disadvantage on the glass to a much smaller Oakland team. Because Oakland was having success against West Virginia’s bigger lineup, Huggins was forced to go small to counteract that.
“The problem I think with playing that small is we don’t rebound the ball,” said Huggins. “We got out-rebounded by two, turned it over 15 times and they were dumb turnovers. We dropped it out of bounds twice.”
Following a Ryan Bass 3 that gave Oakland a 47-40 lead, Murray responded with a traditional three-point play when he scored along the baseline, was fouled by Corey Petros, and converted his free throw.
Two Juwan Staten
free throws cut the Grizzlies lead to two and then Eron Harris
busted a 3 from the corner to give West Virginia a 48-47 lead. With the score tied at 52, Keaton Miles
knocked down back-to-back 3s from the corner, Staten converted another traditional three-point play, and Dominique Rutledge
threw down an alley oop pass from Staten to give West Virginia its biggest lead of the game at nine, 63-54, with 9:03 left.
However, three empty offensive possessions by the Mountaineers allowed Oakland to chip away, the Grizzlies getting a basket from Drew Valentine and a deep 3 from Travis Bader to reduce West Virginia’s lead to six, 66-60. Free throws from Valentine and Bader, and another long 3 from Duke Mondy cut West Virginia’s lead to two, 68-66, with 5:34 remaining.
hit an open jumper at the top of the key to make it a four-point game, but Bader eventually tied it up at 71 with his sixth 3 with 2:29 to go.
hit a critical jumper with 1:50 to go as the shot clock was winding down to make it 73-71, and then Murray came up with a pair of big rebounds that led to three free throws that iced the game.
“We went to a little half court pressure and I thought that got us going, got us out in transition and got us some baskets,” said Huggins.
A key stat in the game was West Virginia outscoring Oakland’s bench 37-2, with 11 different Mountaineer players scoring.
“The plan coming in was we were going to play 10 guys and try and wear them out and I don’t know how much we wore them out,” said Huggins. “We were going to play full-court pressure and do some things but quite frankly, that’s hard to do when you can’t guard the ball.”
Staten added 11, going 3 for 3 from the floor and 5 for 5 from the line, Miles came off the bench to contribute 10 and Terry Henderson
In addition to his double-double, Murray also contributed five block and four assists in 24 minutes of action.
“(Murray) would have played a whole lot more if he hadn’t got into foul trouble,” said Huggins. “I thought he was a factor around the rim. He’s got great hands. If he gets a hand on it he’s going to keep it.”
Bader led everyone with 25 points while Valentine added 15 and Petros scored 14.
“They are good and they are extremely well coached,” said Huggins. “Greg (Kampe) does a great job with them.”
Oakland, which led Pitt by 14 in the second half before losing by 10 in overtime, drops to 4-8.
“We shoot 53 percent (52.9%) and they shoot 40 (40.4%) and it’s a heck of a game,” said Huggins. “ust think if we don’t make any shots.”
West Virginia has a quick turnaround facing Radford in a late afternoon game at the Coliseum on Saturday.