A 10-0 second-half run pushed West Virginia University past Marshall University 78-62 Wednesday night at the Charleston Civic Center before a sold-out crowd of 12,684 in the annual Chesapeake Energy Capital City Classic.
Kevin Jones led the Mountaineers (14-5) with 25 points and seven rebounds. Darryl “Truck” Bryant added 22 points and seven boards as the Mountaineers avenged a 75-71 loss last year.
DeAndre Kane notched 19 points and two rebounds for Marshall (13-5).
((Below is a video recap of the game))
After a closely contested first half ended tied at 30, WVU pulled away early in the second half after a 10-0 run. During the run, Marshall was held scoreless for more than five minutes. At that point, WVU led 55-45 with 11 minutes to play. Marshall never seriously threatened WVU’s lead after that.
The game started with both teams struggling to adjust to the Civic Center’s notoriously tough shooting conditions. The game was more than four minutes old when WVU’s Kevin Noreen made the game’s first field goal. Noreen started in place of junior forward Deniz Kilicli who was nursing a high ankle sprain sustained in Tuesday’s practice.
Once players adjusted to the Civic Center’s rims and backboards, both teams started rolling. Marshall made 11 of its final 19 shots to end the first half.
Marshall took a 37-36 lead early in the second half after a basket by Kane. Over the next five and a half minutes, the Mountaineers scored 10 while Marshall went ice cold from the field and failed to score. WVU never looked back.
The Herd scored the game’s first points on a pair of free throws. WVU scored the next six and led until the 4:51 mark in the first half when a dunk by Kane put Marshall up 21-20. Kane scored the next six points to make it 27-20 in favor of the Herd. WVU responded with a 7-0 run to tie it at 27. Marshall had the ball and led WVU 30-27 with 5.6 seconds to play. But Marshall threw the inbound pass away, giving WVU a final possession. Bryant hit a three-pointer just before the buzzer to tie the game at 30 at halftime and giving WVU momentum into the locker room.
Behind the stellar play of senior Kevin Jones, WVU dominated the second half. Jones went 8-12 from the field, including 3-4 from beyond the three-point line.
The Mountaineers shot a remarkable16-26 in the second half. Marshall was only 14-35 after halftime.
WVU also became the first team to out rebound Marshall during a game this season. The Mountaineers grabbed 37 rebounds to Marshall’s 27. Coming into Wednesday, MU was third in the nation averaging 42.9 rebounds per game.
Fewer whistles than usual blew during the often-chippy rivalry. After 47 fouls and 61 free throws in last year’s contest, teams were called for a combined 32 fouls this year. WVU shot 17-22 from the charity stripe. Marshall hit three of the six shots it got from the free throw line.
Next up for the Mountaineers is a crucial Big East matchup against Cincinnati. The Bearcats come into the game with 5-1 league record.