MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Juwan Staten
scored a career-high 22 points and Eron Harris
added 19 to lead West Virginia to a season-opening, 77-62 win over Mount St. Mary’s Friday night at the WVU Coliseum.
The Mountaineers (1-0) shot 56 percent from the floor (28 of 50) and 83.3 percent from the free throw line (15 of 18) in an efficient all-around offensive performance.
“I think the two guys who have played the hardest and worked the hardest were our two best players tonight,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins.
WVU jumped out to a 5-0 lead right out of the gate and led throughout, building its advantage to nine, 23-14, on a traditional three-point play by Harris.
A Gary Browne
layup got the lead to double digits at 11, 37-26, and the Mountaineers took a nine-point advantage, 41-32, into the locker room at halftime.
The Mountaineers led by double figures for most of the second half, the margin swelling to as many as 15 on several occasions.
Freshmen Nathan Adrian
and Brandon Watkins
contributed 11 and 10 points respectively, and nine different plays saw action for WVU. However, sophomore guard Terry Henderson
did not play for a second straight game because of inflammation in his shin. Henderson was kept out of last Monday’s exhibition game against Fairmont State for the same reason.
Harris and Adrian made all six 3s for the Mountaineers, knocking down three each.
“(Adrian) didn’t play nearly as well as he’s been playing basketball wise because he’s got a really good basketball IQ,” said Huggins. “I think they got him sped up a little bit more than what he’d like to be sped up but he played well. He’s young. It’s a heck of step between the Mohigans and the Hilltoppers.”
At times there were as many as three new players on the floor at the same time, especially in the paint.
“It’s hard to make adjustments because they just don’t understand what you want,” said Huggins. “I don’t think they will understand it until they’ve been through it over and over again that you can’t take plays off. You can’t kind of stand there in a daze and not switch something you’re supposed to switch.”
Julian Norfleet led Mount St. Mary’s, which had four starters returning from an 18-win team last season, with 19 points.
“We did a terrible job of routing people at an angle to the basket,” said Huggins. “The way the rules are they are going to get to the basket, but you can’t let them turn into the basket and we just didn’t get square. We opened up too much and gave them straight-line drives.”
The Mount (0-1) had a 30-28 advantage on the glass.
“We didn’t rebound the ball and that kind of sticks in my craw,” said Huggins.
Tonight’s win snapped a seven-game losing streak dating back to last February for the Mountaineers.
“We’re making progress,” said Huggins. “Sometimes it’s harder to see but we are making progress.”
West Virginia returns to action next Tuesday at Virginia Tech in a rare weekday afternoon game that will tip off at 1 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPN.