MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Following a slow start in both halves, West Virginia was able to adjust in the second half, defeating Clemson 66-59, to win third place in the Shriners Children’s Charleston Classic.
With this win, WVU head coach Bob Huggins moves solely into the No. 4 most winningest coaches of all-time. Huggins tied Roy Williams with the win against Elon on Thursday, but now passes Williams with win No. 904.
West Virginia (4-1) didn’t seem to learn anything from the Marquette game, as they allowed wide-open shots. Clemson (4-2) started the game shooting 5-of-6 from the field.
That all changed once Gabe Osabuohien checked into the game.
Osabuohien’s defensive presence gave the Mountaineers the energy to go on an 11-2 run mid-way through the first half. The run was capped off by a Taz Sherman three-pointer that gave WVU their first lead of the night.
With a fatigued Osabuohien running up and down the floor, the fifth-year senior gave it his all for West Virginia. Osabuohien finished with four points, seven rebounds, four assists and a charge drawn.
Toward the end of the half, transfer guard Malik Curry gave the Mountaineers a 5-0 run by himself to take the lead before the end of the half.
WVU led by only one point at halftime, 35-34.
The first few minutes in the second half were deja vu for West Virginia. Clemson started 6-of-6 shooting from the field out of the break. As the Tigers shot the ball well in the beginning of the second half, WVU did exactly the opposite. The Mountaineers shot 3-of-15 in the second half until the 10 minute mark.
What WVU needed is Sean McNeil. With 10:12 left in the second half, McNeil made his first basket of the game. Then, McNeil proceeded to keep scoring: a layup, a three-pointer and two mid-range jumpers put WVU in a good position to stay competitive.
McNeil finished with a team-high of 13 points, after being held to a scoreless first half.
Two Kedrian Johnson free-throws gave West Virginia a 58-56 lead with under three minutes left. This was the first lead for WVU since the beginning of the second half.
With 30 seconds left and up by three, a driving layup by Curry gave the Mountaineers a two-possession lead.
As Clemson tried to mount a comeback late in the game, the Tigers threw six players on the floor, resulting in a technical foul, giving the Mountaineers a two-possession lead with 17 seconds in the game.
West Virginia went on to hold the lead and win the game. WVU won its first rebounding battle of the season, out-rebounding the Tigers 31-27.
West Virginia will head back to Morgantown to prepare for a Black Friday date with Eastern Kentucky. Mountaineers will tip-off with EKU at 7 p.m. on ESPN+.
(Top Photo: Julia Mellett – WVSN)