No. 2 Mountaineers Hold On For Victory Over Baylor
MORGANTOWN, W.Va–It wasn’t decided until the clock hit 0:00, but in the end, West Virginia extended it winning streak to 15 straight by virtue of a hard-fought 57-54 victory over Baylor Tuesday night at the WVU Coliseum.
The Mountaineers, who made only 19-of-61 shots in the game, finished with just two players in double figure, Daxter Miles and Lamont West, who each had 12.
With the win, West Virginia, which moved up to No. 2 in the A.P. poll yesterday, improved to 15-1overall and 4-0 in the Big 12. Baylor dropped to 11-5 overall and 1-3 in league play.
The Mountaineer offense got off to a slow start. That allowed Baylor jump in front early, and the BU lead grew to 13-4 before the game was five minutes old. West Virginia never hit shots at a high rate in the first but a 9-2 WVU run brought the home club to even, and the combatants went into the lockerroom tied at 29-29 at the midway break.
WVU made only 10-of-33 field goal attempts in the first 20 minutes. But because it took nine more shots than the Bears in the opening period, it was more about quantity than quality. BU was especially hot from deep, hitting 5-of-7 three-point attempts in the first half, but the visitors from Waco also had 11 first-half turnovers (compared to just five for West Virginia), which allowed the Mountaineers to earn an 11-5 advantage in points off turnovers. Add that all together and it resulted in a tie game at halftime.
WVU forged a four-point lead in the early going of the second half, but BU didn’t let that Mountaineer edge expand any further. The Bears tied the contest at 49-49 with five minutes to play on a pair of Tristan Clark free throws. West Virginia was in the midst of a drought, having gone over four minutes scoring just one point. The game remained knotted heading into a timeout at the 3:52 mark before a Sagaba Konate jump hook gave WVU a two-point lead. Baylor tied it, though, at 51, and the Big 12 rivals went into the final 1:40 with the score even.
Jevon Carter, who had three points all night to that critical juncture, stepped up and draining a huge trey with 57.5 left to give West Virginia a 54-51 lead. On the other end, BU’s Manu Lecomte missed a contested, lean-in three-point attempt, and all WVU needed in the final 20 seconds was to make free throws to seal its 15th win. Carter missed a front end of one-and-one, though, but Konate saved him with a rebound of the miss. Miles eventually found himself with the ball and was quickly fouled. He converted one-of-two at the line with 15.2 remaining, and WVU’s lead was four. The Bears’ Jake Lindsey cut that to one, though, 55-54, with 4.0 seconds showing on a corner three over an outstretched Konate.
Carter was fouled on the ensuing inbounds, and this time he made both free throws to give West Virginia a three-point cushion. BU’s ran a long pass-and-pitch that found a wide open Lecomte on the wing, but his try to tie the game was way long, and for the first time all night, West Virginia could breathe a sigh of relief with a 57-54 victory in hand.
Though he missed two critical shots late, Lecomte led Baylor’s offense with 13 points. Jo Lual-Acuil added 11 points to go along with 10 rebounds for the Bears.
Kanote had eight points and a game-high 12 rebounds for the Mountaineers, but his biggest contribution probably came on the defensive end, where he had a career-high seven blocks. That’s tied for the fourth most blocks in a single game in Mountaineer history. D’or Fischer had nine once and eight twice, and is the only former WVU player to ever record more than West Virginia’s current sophomore center.
The Mountaineers will be on the road for their next game, traveling to Lubbock, Texas, for a showdown with No. 8 Texas Tech (14-2/3-1). Tipoff for Saturday’s game is 2 p.m.