MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Coliseum became a cauldron of noise, its 9,300 fans roaring enough for a crowd twice that size, and West Virginia’s basketball team boiled with energy, its ambush of No. 20 Gonzaga on pace.

Only Gonzaga—and specifically slumping guard Kevin Pangos—wasn’t finished.

The All-American candidate, discombobulated and ineffective for most of the night, scored 11 points during an 18-2 run that rallied the Bulldogs to an 80-76 win.

Boxscore: Gonzaga 80, West Virginia 76

West Virginia (6-4), which couldn’t hold a 10-point lead in the second half, fell to a top-30 RPI team for the third time in four games and missed another opportunity to elevate its nonconference resume.

“We’ve got to learn how to finish games,” said Mountaineers guard Terry Henderson, who scored 15 points in his first start of the season. “We had them right where we wanted them, but just had bad possessions on offense and mental mistakes on defense.”

Henderson’s four-point play put WVU ahead 64-56 with 8:22 remaining and set the building abuzz. But on cue the veteran Bulldogs (9-1) regained their poise and began working sets for the struggling Pargos, who was 3-of-12 shooting at that point. He promptly hit a pull-up jumper and then sank three consecutive 3-pointers in the span of four possessions as Gonzaga jetted ahead 74-66.

“The first (3-pointer) we acted like we didn’t know who he was—we didn’t have anyone around him,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “All we wanted to do was keep it out of his hands, which we did a decent job of for a while.”

Video: Watch Huggins’ postgame reaction

Before Pangos heated up from the perimeter, Gonzaga rode the interior presence of 7-foot-1, 296-pound sophomore Przemek Karnowski, who produced season-highs of 19 points and 13 rebounds. The Polish import—who came in as a 46-percent foul shooter yet made 7-of-8 free throws— also foiled WVU’s scouting report with ambidexterity.

“We played him to take away his left hand and a few times he went back with his right hand and made his shots,” said WVU forward Kevin Noreen. “That was a little unexpected because scouting it we didn’t see that much at all.

“He’s a wide-body and he’s tough to guard when he gets the ball deep in the post. He’s all of 7-1 and 300 pounds.”

Eron Harris scored 18 of his 23 points in the first half when the Mountaineers led 39-35. But the sophomore guard was frustrated by getting fewer touches in the second half, and he missed the front end of a one-and-one with WVU down 76-72 at the 1:15 mark.

After Juwan Staten’s jumper closed it to a two-point game with 51 seconds left, WVU forced a Gonzaga miss only to have Sam Dower’s outback dunk make it 78-74 with 25 seconds left.

Staten was solid with 17 points, nine rebounds, three assists and zero turnovers, though he sank only 5-of-14 shots. WVU hit only 37 percent of its shots from the floor, second-worst on the season to the 35-percent outing at Virginia Tech. Gary Browne finished 1-of-6, Nate Adrian 1-of-5 and Devin Williams 3-of-13, unable to lure Karnowski away from the basket.

“We had wide-open shots,” Huggins said. “We’ve all seen Devin step out to 15 and 16 feet and make shots. Tonight they didn’t guard him at the foul line. They were trying to shut down those other people and it was a gamble.”

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  • Marty Chase

    WVU played a decent game against a tough opponent. But poor shooting killed them...more clunkers than you'd find on a used car lot.

  • mark

    Glad Huggs is staying positive with this group. They cannot afford to lose confidence this early. Really don't understand why Harris was a non-factor other than there was not a concerted effort to get him the ball in the second half. That's up to the coaching staff. Shame we shoot 37% on our home floor and we had open shots.

  • pghmountaineer

    Well folks we are improving. We are now into "moral" vctories. We'll have alot of them.
    Wins and losses won't change much from last year.

  • TruthTeller

    It all goes to being a young team. They need to learn how to be more aggressive at the end of the game. To peak at the end of games. That comes down to Huggs teaching that. Young players look at the score board and if they are a head they think the game is over stop playing.
    Huggs need to teach the never quit never stop playing until the final second has passed. They let this one slip away through their fingers. They have got to learn to finish games strong.

    • cutty77

      WVU has lost 4 games,3 of the 4 are to Ranked Teams. No bad for such a young Team,but its also time to quit using that excuse too. Should of won last night,and should of beat VT. Both same type of games,big leads in 2nd half and then let it slip away. Buts it better to lose early than late. This Team will make it to The NCAA's. We are not playing any Cupcakes alone the way. Huggs and Staff are doing a much better Job. If i could just get that Pull-Over off Huggs. Lol

      • OKANYDAY

        You are right about the pull-over on Huggins cutty77, it almost looks like a small tent hanging over him. In the VT game, we had them down 17 points in the first half as I remember. Then in the second half, we came out it seemed like with a nonchalant attitude, and the next thing VT came on very aggressive and never gave up, and we lost the game. I can't help but feel a big part of our problems is associated with coaching. It seems like every year we have an excuse for everything; when on the other hand teams Gonzaga have a good team every year, and just reloads. I'm like Ray's post on here, it just gets frustrating watching some of the same old stuff in losing year after year.

  • John S. Shackelford

    Gassed. Too few experienced players playing too many minutes. They have lost a good many games in the last five minutes. The time lapses in scoring is a mystery to me. I need someone to help me out with that.

  • Jack

    The team is 100 percent better than last year, but they are not mature enough to win the big games. They left the best long range shooter for Gonzaga wide open in the final minutes and the defense was left wide open for easy lay ups. They need to play hard and finish the game. I certainly hope that Huggs can recruit a couple of big men to handle the post next year.

  • Ole Sasquatch

    Number 1 priority for Hugg's and Coaching Staff - start immediately developing B. Watkins into a force under the basket both offensively and defensively, no matter what time it takes. Just like War on Baker, his uncle he has the tools to make us a much more diverse basketball team. Shot blocking and quick offensive moves under the basket. This priority deserves more emphasis than the work done on Joe Alexandra that Hugg's so often speaks of. Personal coaching time needs to be expended. Anyone involved in basketball can see this kid's potential! We need it ASAP. We cannot afford for him to develop slowly.

  • cutty77

    What Killed WVU is 2 things. You can't go 5 minutes without scoring. And Nathan can't guard anybody,he really hurt WVU on Defense. He needs to quit trying to block every shot,this is not High School anymore.

    • Stan

      Yeah, I agree. I think Noreen is pretty good at defending, but he got in foul trouble. I think that was when the Zags bigs started to use their size advantage, when he was out. Now that we have good gaurds our front court is lacking. Too bad Murray wasn't such a head case.

  • tw eagle

    WVU played a strong, good game till they let Willams getting double stuffed under the basket disrupt their growing confidence . . .
    from that point , Gonzaga gave the two WVU "big men" lot of room outside to shoot or come inside - they chose to throw bricks at the basket , rather than challenge inside . . . I don't fault Huggins , but getting
    Adrian or Doge into the game might have saved some of those 0 point trips . . .

  • Big Larry

    Pay attention…class is in session. Here are my observations…

    1. WVU has proven it can shoot the basketball…but how do you let the opposing team go on an 18-2 run after a 10 point lead…at home… with the crowd behind you?

    2. WVU looked fantastic and was ahead 10 points and simply quit after that. They basically did nothing. They looked disoriented. What’s up with that?

    3. Someone needs to teach Devin Williams how to shoot free throws…He just walks up to the line and hurriedly throws the ball at the rim. It is of no value for him to get fouled only to miss free-throws. The big man for Gonzaga (Karnowski) was smooth and was knockin them down.

    4. Eron Harris was shut down in the second half which was the difference. Opposing teams will learn from this and keep added second half pressure on him from here on out.

    5. Last night I saw one of the scariest sights I believe I have ever seen and believe me… I have seen some scary sights. One of the WVU fans had one of those oversized head cutouts of Bob Huggins and was waving it in the student section. Twice the TV cameras zoomed in on it and yes…it was freaky!

    6. I am still waiting for assistant coach Billy Hahn to get up off the bench. What does he do anyway?

    7. The WVU crowd was a difference maker and was very vocal and supportive.

    8. WVU should easily defeat the hapless Marshall team Saturday night in Charleston. If they lose or don’t win by more than 15, something is bad bad wrong.

    9. That’s all I got….

  • David Warnick

    They shouldn't have watched the football team.

  • Ray

    This game was a rerun from last year. I have attended a lot of games in the past two years and the one consistant theme is that we can't finish games. Either our shooting goes south and/or we have turnovers and defense lapses. I am a frustrated WVU fan who is tired of all the losing both in basketball and football. This isn't fun watching the team implode game after game.

  • mark

    Devin Williams killed us down the stretch making poor decisions and trying to force things. he will be a good player but his inexperince cost us against gonzaga.

    • roger

      I agree

  • Whatamoroon

    It looks like an NIT kind of year. Again.

    • RJ

      "Don't count your chickens before they hatch!" as the old saying goes. They may not even get the NIT, unless they can beat the likes of Gonzaga and some top 25 teams, they don't deserve it!! A team shouldn't expect to go to a tournament beating the weak teams they have beaten. Need to start beating quality teams!

  • leroy j gibbs

    NIT champs this year. Sweet 16 next year

    • RJ

      REad above!!

      • leroy j gibbs

        Nit are the leftovers.they can beat them