West Virginia Improves in Win Over Valparaiso
|Field Goal %||53.6||49.2|
|Three Point %||45.0||41.2|
|Free Throw %||70.0||77.3|
The West Virginia Mountaineers (3-2) beat the Valparaiso Crusaders 88-76 inside the Coliseum Saturday afternoon. WVU started the game climbing up to a nine-point lead; however, Valpo came back to tie the game late in the first half, before the Mountaineers took a three-point lead into halftime. West Virginia took care of the ball the second half only committing one turnover as they went onto the 12-point victory.
Esa Ahmad was the difference maker in the first half. He led all scorers with 16 points, shooting 6-9 from the field. All three of his rebounds were on the offensive glass and had two assists. Ahmad was demanding the ball down on the post and finding ways to score. Esa Continued his dominance in the second half finishing the game with 30 points, setting a new career high.
“Esa is very, very good at playing without the ball. He cuts without the ball, he understands when his guy turns his head, he can cut by him. He does a good job of curling into the rim. He is way, way better without the ball than he is with the ball.” Explained West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins
Sagaba Konate started the second half going 3-4 from behind the arc for 9 points. He had his inside out game going hitting three and playing strong underneath the basket. Sags went on to set his career with 26 points, 24 of them coming in the second half.
Sags said he lacked energy in the first half. “That was a lot of it” said Huggins. They we’re trying to take the paint away from us, so there really wasn’t anybody guarding him. I’m ok with him shooting it – he just can’t shoot it on the first pass. We got beat by Western Kentucky because whoever got it, shot it. We can’t do that. We run some motion and some curls and things, and he stepped back and hot his shoulders square. He’s worked really hard at shooting it. “
Emmitt Mathews Jr has increased his minutes the last two games. He was on the floor for 12 minutes in the win over St Joes and finished Saturday afternoon playing 17 minutes and scoring five points. He was doing a lot of little things throughout the game, taking charges, grabbing rebounds and a blocked shot is keeping him on the floor.
“He just getting better and better. It’s hard to get better if you’re not coachable, and he’s really coachable. He’s terrific, and it wouldn’t shock me if he didn’t by pass some other guys that aren’t as coachable. Said Huggins.
The Mountaineers committed their fewest turnovers (7) on the season Saturday. They didn’t really pressure us much, but we did pass the ball better. We’ve put an enormous amount of time in trying to teach them how to feed the post and pass the cutters and those kind of things.
West Virginia will host Rider Wednesday evening at 6:30 at the WVU Coliseum.