Fortunately for West Virginia there are 40 minutes in a college basketball game because the Mountaineers needed just about all of them to defeat Marshall Saturday night in Charleston.
West Virginia got 19 points from Juwan Staten
and 12 points and 11 rebounds off the bench from freshman forward Brandon Watkins
to defeat the Herd, 74-64, in the 2013 Chesapeake Energy Capital Classic at the Charleston Civic Center.
“That was not a work of art,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, who now moves into sole possession of 16th place on the NCAA all-time wins list with 730. “But they don’t quit - and they know how bad they were.”
The double-digit victory was very misleading because West Virginia didn’t take its first lead of the game until 3:41 remaining when Staten scored while driving to the basket and was fouled by Cheikh Sane. The junior point guard made the free throw to give the Mountaineers their first lead at 63-62.
Another Staten drive the next time down the floor wouldn’t go down, but Remi Dibo was there for the follow to give WVU a 65-62 advantage.
After that, Marshall went into self-destruct mode as it typically does in a series the Herd trails 18-5 since it was permanently moved to Charleston in 1992.
With 2:44 left, Marshall’s Ryan Taylor was caught throwing an elbow into the chest of Dibo after he was fouled by Staten. Instead of getting two free throws from Taylor with a chance to make it a one-point game, Taylor was disqualified because that was his fifth foul and both teams now had free throw opportunities with the Mountaineers getting the basketball afterward.
Shawn Smith made one of two on one end of the floor and Staten hit one of two at the other before he tacked on two more with 2:14 to go. Once again, Huggins chose to clear out the floor and let his point guard go to work at the basket.
, who scored 12, hit a jumper with 1:31 left to give West Virginia a seven-point lead and then two Eron Harris
free throws with 54 seconds remaining elevated the margin to eight.
A Harris dunk with 36 seconds closed out the scoring.
West Virginia outscored Marshall 12-2 over the remaining 3:41 to boost its record to 7-4. The Thundering Herd drops to 4-6 after tonight’s loss.
West Virginia got a big lift off the bench from Watkins and Dibo, who combined to grab 18 rebounds for the Mountaineers after they were getting killed on the glass for a good portion of the game.
Watkins made 6 of 7 from the floor and also pulled down three offensive rebounds and came up with a big steal late in the game.
“He’s the one guy on the team who can change things around the rim,” said Huggins. “Brandon is going to have to play more, but he’s going to have to learn what he’s doing. After one timeout I wanted to strangle him when he lined up on the wrong side of the floor.”
West Virginia was also able to clean up its ball handling, committing just five turnovers in the second half after fumbling a season-high 11 in the first half.
“We kept the ball in Wanny’s hands in the second half more,” noted Huggins. “He was absolutely terrific. He does a lot of things for us.”
The Mountaineers shot 50 percent from the floor (25 of 50), but was just 4 of 15 from 3-point distance. Marshall was 25 of 60 from the floor and was much worse at the free throw line, going 10 of 24 for the game.
Watkins was named the game’s MVP.
Kareem Canty scored 16, Chris Thomas had 12 and TyQuane Goard added 11 for the Herd.
Earlier today, the WVU women defeated Marshall, 82-51, on the same floor.
West Virginia will have a week off before facing Purdue Sunday afternoon at the Coliseum in a 1 p.m. game that will be televised nationally on ESPNU.