MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Markel Brown’s 3-point field goal with 15 seconds left lifted 11th-ranked Oklahoma State to a 73-72 victory over West Virginia Saturday afternoon at the WVU Coliseum.
After Brown’s basket, the Mountaineers (10-6, 2-1) had a chance to win the game, but Juwan Staten
’s shot attempt while driving to the basket hit off the side of the rim and freshman Devin Williams
was unable to put back the miss.
The Cowboys eventually secured the ball to hold on for their 13th victory of the season.
"We’re close," said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. "Our problem is that we have a whole bunch of freshmen who don’t understand that when you stop playing hard that people take advantage of you. When you stop playing hard then they do that."
This afternoon’s game followed a pattern Mountaineer fans have become quite familiar with: play good teams tough, fight and claw to stay in it but not possessing enough gas left in the tank to finish the deal.
All six of West Virginia’s defeats this year have been by 10 points or less, and the last three losses have been by the agonizingly close margins of four to Gonzaga (80-76), three to Purdue (73-70) and by one today to Oklahoma State.
West Virginia’s biggest lead was eight in the first half, 32-24, while Oklahoma State had its biggest margin of five several times in the second half, the latest coming with 5:23 to go following a Marcus Smart 3.
But Terry Henderson
followed with a 3 at the other end, and then the Mountaineers tied it at 67 on a Staten drive to the basket with 4:21 remaining. Trailing 70-67, West Virginia got five straight during a one minute stretch – a close one from Williams and then a big Henderson 3 with 1:17 remaining - to put the Mountaineers back in the lead, 72-70.
blocked Le’Bryan Nash’s shot attempt on Oklahoma State’s next possession, giving the Mountaineers the ball with 1:04 remaining. West Virginia then chose to run down the shot clock, but Staten’s drive to the basket came up short and Brown rebounded the basketball with 28 seconds left.
Following an Oklahoma State timeout, Brown banged in the go-ahead basket from the left wing.
Smart and Nash were the Mountaineer killers today, the sophomore guard scoring 22 points, grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds while handing out five assists. Nash finished with 18 points and six rebounds.
Brown had 12 and made his only 3 (out of four attempts) when it counted.
Henderson and Staten produced a good portion of the offense for West Virginia this afternoon. Henderson finished with a season-high 21 while Staten added 20.
Freshman Devin Williams
scored 12 and pulled down a personal-best 13 rebounds. West Virginia’s leading scorer, Eron Harris
, finished with 11 on 3 of 11 shooting.
The Mountaineers struggled shooting the basketball in the second half, hitting just 35 percent of their shot attempts to finish shooting 41.4 percent for the game. Oklahoma State shot 44.8 percent in the second half and finished the game hitting 45 percent of its field goal tries.
West Virginia had a slight, 38-35 edge on the glass.
"This West Virginia unit is a really good basketball team," said Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford. "We have been telling our guys over the last two days how improved the Mountaineers are this season. They play tough and physical."
A season-high 12,078 showed up for today's game.
The Mountaineers have a quick turnaround, facing Texas on Monday night at the Coliseum in a 7 p.m. game that will be televised nationally on ESPNU. The Longhorns, 11-4, 0-2, play at home against Texas Tech later tonight.
"They’re turning around quick like we are," said Huggins. "Of course it’s challenging. Everyone complains about quick turnarounds, but it is what it is. I’m more worried about Texas than when we play them."