West Virginia Grabs First Win of the Season Over Monmouth
Conway, SC – West Virginia got out to a quick start with a long jump shot from Sagaba Konate and later followed up with an old fashioned three-point play from Esa Ahmad.
Monmouth, however, weathered the storm and kept pace with West Virginia and eventually claimed a lead that wouldn’t fall until late in the first half.
Monmouth guards Louie Pillari and Nick Rutherford excelled at pushing the ball in transition and the majority of their first half turnovers were unforced. Early on, Sagaba Konate and Esa Ahmad carried the offensive side of things until Ahmad found himself foul trouble.
The Mountaineers were called out over the past week for not moving the ball enough on offense and settling for too many three-point shots. In the first half, West Virginia shot 3-12 from deep and did not really try to work the ball into the paint. When things got a little sloppy at guard, Bob Huggins subbed in freshman Jordan McCabe and it seemed to get the offense going. He made a few nice moves with the ball that got the crowd at HTC Center up on their feet. He also settled in once he hit a three pointer from the left side, which seemed to lift up the team’s energy on the defensive side.
After a somewhat frustrating first half, the Mountaineers led 36-31 in what was a pretty even game across the board.
To begin the second half, Esa Ahmad drained a three on the Mountaineers second possession and was followed up with a big rejection on the other end from Sagaba Konate. West Virginia opened the game up to a ten-point lead at the 12-minute mark.
The Mountaineers really started finding points when their defense continued to force turnovers and get stops. West Virginia was able to pull ahead and not look back.
The final score was 71-53 as the Mountaineers claim their first win of the season.
“Every time I look at the bench, I’m putting in a new guy,” Huggins commented after the game. “Thankfully, we don’t have to depend much on those guys and we are able to get enough out of our older guys. Our transition defense is bad because we shoot it too quick and we have guys running the wrong way. We need to wait for our guys to get down the floor.”
Coach Huggins was also impressed with the clearly pro-West Virginia crowd at the HTC Center
“It didn’t surprise me. I knew it was going to be like that. We have a bunch of people calling back home to find out how to get tickets. Our crowd is incredible, they always travel well. They travel to places like Texas and Kansas too.”
Although the first half was not all that impressive, West Virginia bounced back in the second half and only allowed 22 points and held the Hawks to 35.3% from the field for the game.
The Mountaineers will take on Western Kentucky tomorrow night for a scheduled tip off at 9 pm in the semi-final of the Myrtle Beach Invitational.