Mountaineers drop semifinal game to Western Kentucky
|Field Goal %||31.5||34.0|
|Three Point %||25.0||24.0|
|Free Throw %||79.4||78.9|
Conway, SC – West Virginia started out quick with a three pointer from Beetle Bolden and a couple drives after Esa Ahmad took it up strong for a layup and sank the and one attempt. Konate showed his presence early when he forced a jump ball on an attempted block.
The offense continued to run through Ahmad, when he was in the game. Huggins had to turn to his bench early with Ahmad, West, Konate and Bolden all picking up two fouls in the first half. The bench stepped up and held their own for the most part considering how new these guys are to the system.
Western Kentucky picked up pretty quickly that the game would be called tight as they continued to pound it underneath to Tolu Smith and drove the paint consistently. Konate and Ahmad both being out of the game at the same time really hurt the Mountaineers ability to defend the paint and on the offensive end to have a reliable option attacking with the ball.
Jermaine Haley and Jordan McCabe both sinked their first shots of the night from three and energized the crowd. Brandon Knapper also hit one from deep early in the half and played the majority of the half in place of Beetle Bolden. The Mountaineers took a 35-33 lead into the half while shooting 44% from the field and 33% from behind the arc.
The 2nd half started off sloppy for the Mountaineers only hitting two of their first ten shots in the half, including five turnovers in just under a four minute span. Lamont West snapped the cold shooting streak with a long NBA range three, which was much needed for him. Beetle Bolden made a tremendous play on the defensive end chasing down a fast break and soared up to make an unbelievable block that had the fans chanting his name during the TV timeout.
West Virginia could not find any rhythm on offense and suffered another scoring drought that lasted over four minutes, but was snapped by a Beetle Bolden three. The three elevated the defensive energy and Sags Konate made a big block on the other end of the floor. Esa Ahmad started to get aggressive on the next possession and drew a goaltending call that got the Mountaineers back within one point with 1:33 to play.
Western Kentucky went 0-2 at the free throw line following the media timeout and a foul was called on Charles Bassey which gave Konate an automatic two shots on the other end. Konate missed the first, but hit the back end to tie it up 57-57. The Hilltoppers came back down the court with the intent to go underneath, Konate baited them to dish it to the block, but he did not react quick enough and Murray threw down the dunk. West Virginia turned it over once again which led to a Hilltopper breakaway that resulted in a foul that sent Savage to the line who downed both shots.
Western Kentucky pulled too far ahead in the final 30 seconds by hitting their free throws and upset the Mountaineers by a final score of 63-57. West Virginia drops to 1-2 on the season.
West Virginia will take on Saint Joseph’s on Sunday at 4pm