Dax Miles Key As WVU Holds Off Fordham
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Dax Miles scored 21 points while hitting key shots late as West Virginia held off Fordham 86-69 here Saturday.
Miles was hot early, scoring eight of WVU’s first 10 points to stoke the Mountaineers to an early lead. But it was his play late, when both he and Jevon Carter were battling foul trouble, that bailed out a team struggling with poor execution. With Carter on the bench saddled with four fouls at the midway point of the latter half, Miles jumpstarted a run with a huge three-point that pushed the lead back to 65-55 with 9:29 remaining.
Behind its 2-3 zone and ability to score in transition and at the line, Fordham pushed back, getting within 70-64 before Miles struck again. The senior hit a tip-in and a lay-up around Chase Harler’s three-pointer, and suddenly the upset chance was dashed, the Mountaineers seizing a 77-64 advantage with three minutes left. In all, Miles scored 10 of WVU’s 15 points in the deciding portion of the game while breathing life into an offense that was stagnant throughout.
Riding Miles’ onrush of points, West Virginia outscored Fordham 12-1 to lead 82-65 after the Rams were as close as six points. The game was essentially over from there, WVU securing an 11th straight win for its longest such streak since the 2010 Final Four season.
The No. 10 Mountaineers (11-1) had six players in double figures; Lamont West scored 15 points and Sags Konate added a dozen in being the lone interior threat. Carter tallied 10 points and a career-high 12 assists, breaking the nine tallied against Kansas last season and matched versus Pitt earlier this year.
Fordham (5-7) missed nine of their final 11 shots, but did get two players well into double figures in guard Will Tavares and Joseph Chartouny with 18 and 16 points, respectively.
The Rams were game throughout, however, and trailed just 49-39 at the half thanks to three late three-pointers. That momentum continued into the second half as West Virginia struggled to attack inside because of the 2-3 zone that flooded the paint. The defense kept the Rams in the game through to the 10-minute mark, when Carter was called for two fouls in one second with a reach and a resulting hold during an inbounds. WVU led 62-53 at that point, and were able to mostly maintain the lead thanks to Miles up through the 6:13 mark when Carter reentered.
The game was choppy over the first 10 minutes. Fordham largely handled West Virginia’s pressure and were able to hit just enough from the floor and the foul line to stay in the game. WVU, meanwhile, missed multiple step-in three-pointers and failed to be as dominant on the offensive glass as expected.
That changed halfway through, when West Virginia extended what was just a 21-19 lead to 40-24 with four minutes left via a methodical 19-5 spurt that was driven by the defense. Fordham went more than six minutes without a field goal, getting its only points from the line and being unable to slash through the man defense after breaking the pressure. WVU began to push the pace more effectively, and had forced its 10th turnover of the half with more than five minutes still to play.
But the game and pace changed again, this time swinging back to Fordham, which closed by scoring 15 of the final 21 points of the half to get within 46-39 at the break. The Rams continued to attack effectively, getting to the line for four quick points before a trio of threes late provided a flurry of nine points in 70 seconds. That turned what could have been a rout into a contest entering the final period.
The victory ties WVU head coach Bob Huggins with longtime Mount St. Mary’s head coach Jim Phelan for seventh place on the all-time NCAA Division I wins list at 830. Huggins is 830-331 in his 36 seasons.