CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Juwan Staten matched his season-high with five turnovers, Eron Harris languished as a nonfactor offensively and Devin Williams was held without a basket for the first time all season.

Doesn’t sound like the game plan West Virginia had in mind for winning the Capital Classic.

But the Mountaineers, after trailing for 16 minutes in the second half, pulled together during crunch time and benefitted from a surprising MVP performance by freshman forward Brandon Watkins to ward off Marshall’s upset bid.

Boxscore: WVU 74, Marshall 64

Watkins collected 12 points and 11 rebounds—enjoying his first college double-double after not playing a single minute in the previous game against Gonzaga. And thanks to a 16-2 closing run, WVU prevailed 74-64, retaining in-state bragging rights by overcoming a series of wrongs.

“The game’s not always going to be a pretty game,” said Staten, “and this one definitely wasn’t pretty.”

Watkins becomes unlikely MVP

After committing only 14 turnovers in the first 10 games, Staten lost four in the first half and West Virginia (7-4) finished with a season-worst 16. But the junior point guard was money when it mattered, scoring nine of his game-high 19 points in the final 10:18 and setting up the offense with deft use of screens.

“He was uncharacteristically loose with the ball early,” said WVU coach Bob Huggins. “But we put the ball in his hands late. I’ve got a world of confidence in him. I think if we get him the ball we’re going to get a shot. He’s going to get somebody a shot.”

Staten created his own three-point play to put West Virginia ahead 63-62 with 3:41 left, using a foul-line ball-screen set by Watkins—the same play off which Staten had dished to Watkins for a previous layup. This time, Marshall switched and Staten, left isolated against 6-foot-9 Chiekh Sane, drove the lane, lunged into the Senagalese forward and drew a foul while banking in the layup.

“They don’t really handle ball-screens well,” Staten said. “I just wanted to drive him to the hole. He’s about 7-foot so I wanted to cut his athleticism off by going into his body and getting the foul.”

A minute later, Staten was back at the foul line, hitting a free throw after officials used video replay to call a deadfall flagrant technical on Marshall’s Ryan Taylor. When WVU kept possession, Staten penetrated for another lay-in and a 68-63 lead.

Marshall (4-6), held without a field goal for the game’s final 4:57, missed its last six shots and committed two turnovers—one of those a charging foul Staten drew by stepping in front of a wild-driving Chris Thomas.

The late-game struggles—and Marshall’s 10-of-24 free-throw shooting overall—left Herd coach Tom Herrion dejected about the night’s missed opportunities.

“It’s a crying shame for our kids. We played so damned hard,” Herrion said. “We beat ourselves—no disrespect to West Virginia. We lost points at the foul line and we played too inexperienced in that stretch there. We had some bad forced drives, just bad offense.”

Kareem Canty’s 16 points led The Herd, which played without suspended forward Elijah Pittman and his 21 points-per-game average. Thomas and TyQuane Goard added 11 points each.

HARRIS OFF-TARGET
Harris finished 3-of-9 shooting and scored only one basket in the second half, a runout dunk with 36 seconds left. He was 1-of-6 from 3-point range, where West Virginia made only 4-of-15.

“Tonight was a tough one, and I think we made it tougher than it should have been,” said Harris, whose 11 points were eight below his season average. “A couple of us came out and wasn’t ready to play. I was probably one of those guys that came out a little lackadaisical.”

But Harris called it a “team win,” crediting the Mountaineers’ bench with a 27-19 edge over Marshall’s.

“I was happy for this team—you saw us getting hyped out there,” he said. “I just want us to move on and improve.”

BROWNE RISES
After shooting 1-of-6 against Gonzaga, Gary Browne was a perfect 5-for-5 from the floor in the Capital Classic. He also hit both free throws to finish with 12 points in 27 minutes off the bench.

“I need to make open shots that the defense gives me,” Browne said. “I’ve been working all summer and all year on my shots.”

WILLIAMS STRUGGLES
Devin Williams had been WVU’s best (only?) inside scoring threat so far, but the freshman struggled against Marshall’s low-post double-teams. He finished 0-of-2 from the floor with three turnovers in a season-low 16 minutes.

At one point, Huggins yelled to his guards, “Don’t throw it in there to him anymore!”


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Comments

  • 5toldU1s

    Say what you will but I thought Huggins showed his chops vs Marshall.
    1) half court pressing defense final 3:44
    2) handing the ball to Staten to do his thing
    3) when's the last time you won 700+ games?

  • Shawn

    In basketball, a win is a win!

  • chasmo

    aaron : if Adrian can't score he is a tremendous liability in a game like this . The " pace " is extremely quick .That's why; however , he will be back and have a great career @ wvu

    • Aaron

      I think Adrian's biggest weakness is he takes himself out of games. You could tell he wasn't looking to shoot after a few misses against Gonzaga and I guess that passiveness must have followed through in practice leading up to this game.

      He has to continue to fight and come with heart or he's going to get lost in the shuffle of the rotation and that will be a shame if that happens because he's a very talented young player.

      Hopefully he can find some moxy, find a role on this team and come back strong.

  • Big Larry

    It is always good to see the Bob Huggins Trolls come out after a great WVU win...

    Let's just bury our head in the preverbal sands of ignorance and pretend that WVU is a great basketball team headed for the NCAA Tournament...

    At least, the Trolls want you to believe that...

    • The bookman

      Having trouble executing wise and credible aren't you? Oh well, we can't save everyone!

    • The bookman

      Having trouble executing wise and credible aren't you? Oh well, we can't save everyone!

  • Aaron

    I looked at the box score and saw that Adrian played 4 minutes. Did he get hurt? I'm curious as to why he was relegated to the end of the bench.

  • Aaron

    Last nights game reminded me of the games when Ron Jirsa teams managed to pull upsets of top 15 WVU teams. Marshall played with tremendous heart and courage and in all honestly, should have beat a much more talented West Virginia team.

    But they missed too many free throws and fell apart in the clutch thus, they went home heartbroken. If they follow up last nights loss with the same effort in future games, they should be successful in a weak Conference USA.

    As to WVU, clearly their biggest weakness is their inability to rebound and defend. They are going to have to work on boxing out as Marshall had 19 offensive rebounds and they really need to work on stopping the ball.

    Too many times Marshall players drove to the basket and WV players backpedaled far too much. At some point, defenders have to stop trying to swat the ball as offensive players go by, step in, set their feet and STOP THE BALL.

    I do think this team shows upside. For one, they have the ability to knock down shots. Harris and Henderson were both off last night and Adrian didn't attempt any 3 point shots but on most nights, this team will get more than 12 points from beyond the arc.

    As they learn to play better team ball and their defense improves, this team if going to make some noise before the end of they year. All and all, it was a good win for the Mountaineers.

  • Low Rider

    Props to Staten and Watkins for great play last night. WVU needs more consistent support from Noreen, Adrian and Williams if we want to get to 16+ victories (threshold for at least the NIT).

  • Indian Boy

    Why does WVU continue to play Marshall in any Sport? Worthless games due to the weakness of Marshall atheletics and lack of any National Recognition. A win
    Means nothing and a loss to them (should it ever happen) can be hurtful in the NCAA positioning. Only Marshall fans care about this.

    • ThomasWV

      Yeah Marshall lost all the football games, but there is no such dominance in any other sport(you could argue women's basketball). Marshall wins in volleyball and tennis almost every year. Last year Marshall won 2/3 in baseball including an 8-0 shutout in Charleston. Marshall beat WVU in women's track at a meet last year in Ohio. Marshall even beat WVU in hockey in South Charleston. WVU has been pretty dominant in the major sports of football and basketball, but you can't make a blanket statement across the whole athletic department.

    • Grant

      I agree in terms of football, but in the other sports, play them. The games draw good crowds, and we play much lesser competition in our non-conference schedule.

    • Oh Did Ya?

      The same could be said for all of WVU's non conference wins thus far.

  • leroy j gibbs

    Getting a little worried about this team. Brandon was the only bright spot last night

  • 4WVUinKY

    Yes it was ugly but a "W" is a "W". I really liked the way we continued to play and made a late game run rather than a late game crash and burn. I loved Brandon stepping up tonight which if this trend continues, will help us down low (which we desperately need) and will give us 8 players who can bring a solid game on any given night. Throw in Macon and Holton (if that ever happens) and we "can be" a force to be reckoned with. I see the potential in this team.

    According to the AP Poll, we've lost to the 4th, 20th, and 24th nationally ranked teams by a combined 20 total points. The VT loss...it is what it is. We need the Purdue game (will be a tough game), don't assume anything with W&M and then launch strong into conference play. Here we go Mounties!

  • Wirerowe

    Did Ryan Taylor punch someone? Did he get thrown out of the game?

    • Mark

      He didn't get thrown out. He received a technical foul which gave him five personal fouls and he fouled out.

  • Scott

    Why does Huggs play Noreen so much????

  • Big Larry

    WVU struggled to beat a hapless Marshall team who just days before kicked their best player and leading scorer off the team. And yes it was an ugly and unprofitable win which may however help with an NIT bid.

    Who-hooooo......

    • big larrys brother

      have you forgotten where you hid your med's again?

    • Big Larry's Wife

      Now Larry, remember Daddy always said you were hapless. If you don't that basement clean today, I'll agree with him.

      • Greg

        Don't you mean repair the under siding on the double wide?

  • squad

    hello larry. hello William. hello William. hello larry. he he he he. ho ho ho ho.

  • Ducks In A Row

    Ole sasquatch was right about that Brandon kid becoming a breakout player soon. We can count him as a reliable source. Good call bigfoot. May need to feed Brandon a bit more meat. He looks a little thin. That kid is going to be special.

    • Ole Sasquatch

      Thank ye.
      But that was not a hard call, if you ever saw Uncle War On Baker play - you knew the DNA was there.
      A few words about Warren. At 6' 7" and slight build, - lean & mean - at game time he became a warrior - thus the nickname (War On). The Bigs from the other teams came in licking their chops. They soon found out they were up against a man! A true Warrior that swept the boards. Warren to this day remains modest, even though I believe he holds the WVU record for most rebounds. Much can be said about the great character of the man. I look at Brandon and I see Warren. The family are true Mountaineers! The spirit lives within them.

      • Ducks In A Row

        You're welcome. I'll admit you had me confused a little with the original post. Thanks for clearing it all up for me. I think that's why I kept that little nugget tucked away, to recall later, when it did finally happen. Maybe we can use "war on" as a chant to inspire Brandon when he gets the ball, or scores. Not to slight the warrior uncle in any way, of course. Thanks again for helping us to pay attention in class here.

        • Ole Sasquatch

          "War On" I like it! Great chant for the Maniacs! Brandon will be inspired to sweep the boards and swat opponents shots when they come in the lane.