MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia Mountaineers had all the reasons to celebrate senior day Saturday afternoon as the team upset No. 4 Baylor in their regular-season finale.
Seniors Chase Harler, Jermaine Haley and Logan Routt were honored before the game.
The Mountaineers started the game cold on offense, being held scoreless for the first five minutes of play. In that time Baylor built up a 9-0 lead and it looked like the Bears might be on track to a blowout win in Morgantown.
WVU’s first points came on two made free throws from freshman forward Oscar Tshiebwe. From that point on WVU’s defense clamped down on the Bears. Baylor would score just one basket over the next nine minutes. In that time West Virginia went on a 19-2 run to take a 19-11 lead.
Baylor would close the first half on an 11-5 run to make the score 24-22 WVU at halftime.
The Bears were led in scoring by Jared Butler and MaCio Teague, both scoring seven points, in the first half. Emmitt Matthews Jr. led WVU with eight points on a pair of three-pointers. Miles McBride and Gabe Osabuohein each had three steals in the first half.
Baylor came out in the second half looking like the better team, wrestling the lead away from the Mountaineers and building a five-point 33-28 lead five minutes in. The teams traded blows until the 10:59 mark when WVU went on the run that would end the game.
The Mountaineers scored 12-straight points over the next five minutes to retake a 49-42 lead. Baylor could only muster four free throws during a 20-4 WVU run that put the Mountaineers up 57-46. Baylor made a couple of three-pointer down the stretch, but WVU continued scoring to win the game 76-64.
Haley played point guard for the Mountaineers through much of the second half with McBride having three fouls. In his final game at the Coliseum, Haley scored nine points, grabbed three rebounds and dished out two assists. Matthews led the team in scoring with 18 points while Tshiebwe scored 16 with 11 rebounds. McBride scored 13 and Sean McNeil had 11 to round out WVU’s double-digit scorers.
The upset win was WVU’s biggest since upsetting No. 7 Kansas last season. It was also the Mountaineers’ third win over a ranked opponent this season.
West Virginia will next play in the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, Missouri. The win Saturday assured that WVU will not have to play on the first day, Wednesday.