CHARLESTON, W.Va. — During three high school state tournament games at the Charleston Civic Center, Nathan Adrian never showed his typical shooting touch. And such was the case two weeks ago when the West Virginia freshman played a scoreless four minutes against Marshall.
But Adrian snapped out of his Charleston jinx on Sunday, scoring all but two of his season-high 16 points during a second-half onslaught as the Mountaineers crushed William & Mary 82-45.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever played good here,” Adrian said on the heels of a 6-of-7 shooting night, which included making 4-of-5 from 3-point range.
The breakout game didn’t change Adrian’s feelings about the arena’s layout, which he said contributed to “funky” depth perception behind the goals. Yet he seemed to be seeing the rims perfectly when he poured in 14 points during a stretch of 4:05 midway through the second half. He hit a foul-line jumper before sinking four 3-pointers from various spots on the floor.
More surprising was how Adrian broke out of his slump after suffering a bloody nose in a collision with the elbow of William & Mary’s Omar Prewitt.
“I’ve got a headache and my nose hurts, but that will go away eventually,” the Morgantown High School product said.
After going 1-of-9 from 3-point range in his last four games, Adrian responded to coach Bob Huggins’ plea that he devote more personal time to shooting drills.
“You can’t really get enough shooting in during the 3-hour practice because we’re working on defense and our sets and stuff,” Adrian said. “So you have to work on (shooting) on your own.
“I’ve been getting in the gym, getting shots up and getting my rhythm back. I’ve been working more than I usually do, and obviously it helped. Huggs has been on me to get in the gym, and I did, so it’s good to listen to him.”