On a day when the Mountaineers simply could not make a shot from the perimeter, it was West Virginia’s trio of starting big men that carried the team to victory.
No. 9 WVU (8-2, 1-1 Big 12) shot just 2 of 21 from three-point range against the Northeastern Huskies (1-5) Tuesday afternoon but scored 50 points in the paint to come away with a 73-51 victory.
Starting forwards Derek Culver (17 points), Oscar Tshiebwe (12) and Emmitt Matthews Jr. (13) combined to score 42 of the team’s 73 points on the day and grab 23 of 45 rebounds. Culver started the game by scoring 10 points in the first five minutes of the game, but then went cold and did not score again in the first half.
The Huskies were able to hang around with the Mountaineers in the first half. Despite going on a nine-to-nothing run late in the half and NU only making one field goal in the final 10 minutes, WVU only went into halftime leading 34-26. It looked like the Huskie might stick around the entire game, scoring the first five points of the second half to cut WVU’s lead to just three points.
From there, however, the Mountaineers finally began to pull away. WVU out-scored Northeastern 25 to eight over the next 10 minutes and cruised to the victory with a comfortable 22-point lead.
Freshman forward Isaiah Cottrell suffered a lower-body injury in the first half and did not return to the game.
WVU will return to Big 12 conference play on Saturday when the Mountaineers will travel to play the Oklahoma Sooners at 4 p.m. in Norman, Oklahoma. That game will be broadcast on ESPN2.