The West Virginia Mountaineers looked dead in the water halfway through Tuesday night’s game against Northern Iowa in Mexico.
At halftime, WVU trailed the Panthers By three and shot only 7-of-28 from the floor. However, West Virginia turned it the entire way around in the second half, storming back from a 15-point deficit to win, 60-55.
UNI got its lead up to 39-24 with 13:26 left to play in the second half. From there, freshman guard Miles McBride took over. McBride led all scorers with 18 points, had five assists and blocked two shots.
Jermaine Haley chipped in 10 points and Sean McNeil had nine points with two three-pointers. Sophomore Derek Culver shot 0-5 from the floor but grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds.
WVU’s depth wore the Panthers down as the game went on. Bob Huggins played 12 players, with nine playing for at least 10 minutes while UNI only played 10 players. The Panthers also got into foul trouble late in the game with both centers, Austin Phyfe and Justin Dahl, fouling out. Northern Iowa’s leading scorer, Isaiah Brown, also picked up four fouls.
West Virginia had big men Oscar Tshiebwe and Gabe Osabouhien both picked up four fouls. This forced the Mountaineers to play with a smaller lineup for much of the night.
With the win, West Virginia moves on to play Wichita State in the championship game. The Shockers defeated South Carolina 70-47 earlier in the day on Tuesday. Wichita State was led by guard Eric Stevenson who scored 19 points against the Gamecocks. WVU and Wichita State will tip-off at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday and be broadcast on CBS Sports.