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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  • 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

  • Mike

    They looked tired at the end, couldn't shoot and couldn't defend. Lack of depth is going to hurt all year, which is totally on Huggins' failure at recruiting. Half of last year's team is kicked off, and two of his prize recruits this year can't qualify. Macon's been trying to qualify for two years, but isn't bright enough to make it in. What a waste of scholarships for this year. I like this team, but Huggins has been terrible in recruiting at his alma mater.

  • Tim C

    Going 4 minutes without scoring while taking a series of bad shots lost this game....Guys...while you played a heckuva game you gotta play for 40 minutes. You guarded the 3 ball so well only to forget about it for 3-4 trips down the floor. That's against the top 3pt team in the country. You can't do that. This is a very good Mountaineer team but they are young and lapses like this will happen. This team is going to get a lot better but not without some growing pains.

    • mark

      yeah they might be good, but 1 or 2 injurys to key players and there goes the season. we just dont have depth and it showed.

    • Troll

      I think it was 7 minutes.

  • PhotoBoothe

    This is reminding me of the 1992 WVU football team. So close in so many games...
    But about Bower's "outback dunk?" Was it served with a Bloomin' Onion...?

    • Larry

      No, they were out of those, had to settle for a nice spinach dip.

  • joey

    just one more defensive stop,& make the free throws,= win

    • Ducks In A Row

      Good point joey. That could have secured the win. I was speaking of total game progression. Free throws always count. They are uncontested, and free, so we need to make those. One more defensive stop is good if you are always seeking a last minute come from behind win. If you attack the basket, odds are you'll score 50% (40% score or 60% foul, if you understand the math) of the time. One or two free throws, or the bucket + or - one.

  • Ducks In A Row

    We played so well. I can't believe this loss. I don't even know what happened. We have to learn to drive to the basket, I think. 40% of the time you'll score, 60% of the time you'll draw the foul. They did it effectively, why can't we? I could be wrong here, but that's my view of it. I'll accept a better account of it and admit I'm wrong, if I'm wrong. Tough loss to swallow.

    • hailey

      I believe we have lost the last 14 games vs top 25 teams.... a very distrubing trend. I love the teams effort and Devin Williams will be a very good plyer but he was 3-13 from the floor and 1-4 from the line. QUIT SHOOTING, he took more shots than Harris that can not happen for us to win against decent teams

      • Big Larry


        For once you make a sensible comment that makes sense...

        What's up?