MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia ended its season Monday the same way it was started.
Frustrations over a severe lack of defense, and questions surrounded the status of freshman forward Derek Culver, who sat out the first half of the Mountaineers’ 109-91 loss to Coastal Carolina in the CBI quarterfinals.
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said afterward that Culver was benched for showing up late to the game.
Huggins then said a lot more.
“This whole mess started, because I compromised my principles,” he said. “I tried to help people and some people you can’t help. This country has gotten so into individual rights that they don’t give a damn about anybody else. We got 13 guys on the team. You can’t do everything for one guy when it’s detrimental to 12 others.”
A WVU Coliseum crowd of 6,675 was stunned, as the Chanticleers (17-16) — after putting up 50 points and shooting 48.6 percent in the first half — scored on their first 13 possessions of the second half and ran the Mountaineers (15-21) off the court.
“It was a perfect storm of us not being ready to play and them hitting just about everything they put up,” said WVU guard Jordan McCabe, who finished with 11 points and six assists. “They played a phenomenal game, unfortunately for us. It was kind of like getting punched in the face and not realizing that it’s coming.”
Huggins was not about to rationalize his players being stunned, though.
“Well, from where they were standing, they had a pretty good look,” Huggins said. “They made shots. We got intimidated around the goal by some 6-foot-5, 6-6 guys. They made shots and that happens sometimes. We walked into things. We walked into sets.
“I know the difference between winners and losers is winners show up all the time. They don’t look for outs. They don’t say, ‘Wow, they’re making them.’ They say, ‘That SOB ain’t going to get another one on me.’ Try guarding them once, see if that works.”
On this night, it did not for the Mountaineers, who set a school record with their 21st loss of the season. Coastal Carolina, which averages 76 points per game, had eclipsed that with more than 13 minutes remaining and the Chanticleers ran their lead to as much as 27 points in the second half.
“It’s hard to play much better offensively than we played, without question,” Coastal Carolina coach Cliff Ellis said. “I think the thing that pleased me, I
mean, we have capabilities to shoot the ball, but I think the thing that really pleased me about this game was our rebounding. This is a team that hangs its hat on rebounding, and we played just one of those great games.
“We were very fortunate, and we were able to get out front and just keep the lead. Our shooting and our rebounding were the keys to the game. Great win.”
Coastal freshman guard DeVante Jones entered the game scoring 12.4 points, but had 20 at the half and finished with a game-high 32 and was 6 of 8 from 3-point range. Jones’ previous season high was 30 points at the end of the regular season against Louisiana Monroe
“Well, I mean, he just had one,” Ellis said. “He’s had what, 35? I thought it was 35, I knew he had 30. It was there for him. He had the opportunities and made his shots.”
This certainly wasn’t what Bob Huggins or West Virginia had in mind when it spent $80,000 to host the first two games of the tournament. Huggins and WVU players wanted to use the CBI as an opportunity to gain more experience for its younger nucleus of players, but the Chanticleers had different things in mind.
Coastal Carolina became the first team to score 100 points against WVU in regulation since Maryland in 1991.
The Chanticleers had six players finish in double figures and put an exclamation point on their win when junior forward Amidou Bamba raced down the court uncontested for a thunderous slam dunk as WVU players simply watched.
“Once you get in a groove, the whole teams gets there,” said West Virginia guard Jermaine Haley, who finished with a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. “They had guys coming off the bench scoring at will. That’s kind of how basketball works. It’s really about momentum and they had it the whole game.”
Emmitt Matthews and Lamont West led the Mountaineers with 21 points and Chase Harler added a career-high 15, but the Chanticleers shot a 58.1 percent (43-of-74),the second-highest percentage shot against WVU this season.
Coastal Carolina, which had six players finishing with 11 or more points, also held a 41-37 advantage on the glass.