Mountaineers Hang On For Backyard BasketBrawl Victory
West Virginia held on for a 69-60 victory over Pitt Saturday night at the Petersen Events Center.
“I saw it coming,” said Bob Huggins of the Mountaineers’ harder than most assumed victory of the Panthers, who are now 5-5. “They look at records and scores, and they thought they were going to just waltz in here and win.
“We weren’t focused enough. We came out just walking around. I’m sure there was something else I could have done, but I don’t know what. We just stood around.”
In the first Backyard BasketBrawl in almost six years, the Mountaineers (9-1) entered as big favorites (+13), and for the first 20 minutes, they played that way.
But early in the second half, WVU senior guard Jevon Carter picked two quick fouls, giving him four for the game. That sent him to the bench at the 13:54 mark. With Carter out of the game, the Panthers went on a 14-2 run and all of the sudden West Virginia’s 18-point halftime lead was sliced to six. Pitt kept charging and eventually cut WVU’s advantage to two, 61-59.
But with the outcome hanging in the balance, Carter re-entered the game and settled the Mountaineers down on both the offensive and defensive end. West Virginia outscored its Backyard rivals 8-1 over the final five and half minutes to secure the victory.
Carter finished the game with 19 points to go along with nine assists and six rebounds. Daxiter Miles scored 15 points, while Lamont West added 13 points and 10 rebounds. Beetle Bolden came off the bench to chip in 10 points. Pitt was led by senior center Ryan Luther, who had 14 points and 12 rebounds
“I thought Beetle came in and really competed,” explained Huggins. “Dax’ wasn’t very good. He took some really bad shots. He drove it at the end and scored two big baskets when he finally did what we told him do.”
West Virginia jumped out to an early lead at the outset of the contest, as Lamont West scored 11 quick points to push the Mountaineers to a 15-5 lead seven minutes in. Pitt cut that margin to five a few minutes later. But then Carter went on a barrage, and the next thing you knew, WVU was on top 20, 38-18. The visitors took a 45-27 lead into the lockerroom at halftime.
Carter pumped in 17 first half points, while West had 11. No Panther had more than six.
Carter, Miles and Sagaba Konate each ended the game with four fouls, while Wesley Harris fouled out n the WVU side. Pitt didn’t have a player with more than three fouls.
“The inconsistency is driving me insane,” Harris said of the officiating. “You can’t have a flow to the game when they bump you on every cut. They shot 31 free throws to our nine. That’s ridiculous.”
West Virginia’s first half cruise control turned into a nailbiter in the second half, but the Mountaineers held on for the win in the Backyard BasketBrawl, which had been in hiatus since 2012.
“It’s frustrating,” said Huggins, who was no pleased with his team’s performance despite the victory, which was just WVU’s third all time at the Petersen Events Center. “You go forward and you go backward. This country was built by people who moved forward. We’re getting into a hard stretch, and we better be ready.”
WVU takes a break this week, as the players will concentrate on final exams. The Mountaineers will be back on the court Saturday for an exhibition game against Wheeling Jesuit.