MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Some 41 games into his college career, Eron Harris may never have enjoyed a first half as much as he did Tuesday night.
He scored 18 points while making 4-of-6 shots from 3-point range—and 6-of-10 shots overall—as West Virginia temporarily stunned No. 20 Gonzaga.
“He was lighting us up in the first half,” said Gonzaga coach Mark Few.
But Harris attempted only five shots during the second half and settled for a 23-point performance that wasn’t enough to save WVU from a 80-76 loss.
“The ball just didn’t touch my hands,” he said. “I didn’t get the ball in the second half.”
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said Gonzaga placed a heavy emphasis on defending Harris more in the second half, to the extent of leaving other WVU players unguarded.
“They played zone and they chased him. They did a great job of knowing where he was,” Huggins said. “Basically, they said ‘He’s not going to beat us, so some of these other guys are going to have to beat us.'”
Had the other players capitalized and West Virginia won, Harris assuredly would have felt differently. But after watching an upset evaporate, Harris took the loss hard and was frustrated by his lack of opportunities in the second half.
“Everybody’s going to try to take me out of the offense, but that doesn’t mean I just don’t get the ball,” he said. “I guess I’ve got to work harder to get the ball. I guess I’m just going to have to be more assertive.
“There’s things to get people open. With a player like Kobe, what do they do? They screen for Kobe. I’m not saying I’m Kobe or anything, but I felt like I had a good enough (first) half to be an option in the second half. I just felt like I wasn’t an option.”