CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After more than 10,000 fans witnessed his team’s near-upset of No. 22 West Virginia on Sunday afternoon, Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni called the series “great for the state” and suggested it should expand beyond the Capital Classic.
D’Antoni likes the neutral-site showdown in Charleston and wants the schools to add a second game each year on a home-and-home rotation.
West Virginia is 0-5 all-time in Huntington but hasn’t played at Marshall’s home gym since the 1990-91 season. The schools have met in Charleston every year since then, a stint the Mountaineers lead 19-5 after Sunday’s 69-66 victory.
Not that D’Antoni paid much account to WVU’s recent dominance of the series. He began his postgame news conference with a light jab at the state’s more prominent program.
“If they back out now, they’re afraid of us,” he said. “We’re coming back.”
Could West Virginia accommodate a second game against its instate rival? Yes, considering the Mountaineers’ nonconference schedule this season features Lafayette, Monmouth, College of Charleston and Wofford.
Would the Mountaineers, with all the leverage in the series, ever commit to a second game? Or to playing in Huntington under any circumstances for that matter? Not in the foreseeable future.
Thrown for a Loop: Walk-on guard Austin Loop, who scored 10 of his 13 points in the second half and finished 3-of-4 from 3-point range, hoped he would get another chance on Marshall’s last possession. But in the frenzied final seconds, the pass went to center JP Kambola, who missed the tying attempt.
“It was (planned) for me, but with 7 seconds left you can’t predict how it’s going to play out,” Loop said. “I think we still got a good shot. (Kambola) can really shoot the ball. It was a good look, it just didn’t go.”
Most disappointing, he said was watching the seniors leave without having beaten West Virginia. “It’s aggravating and I’m aggravated for them,” he said.
During a game that featured offsetting technicals in the first half and chippiness throughout (56 fouls), Loop and West Virginia forward Nate Adrian tangled briefly before an official intervened. Still the sophomore came away impressed by the Mountaineers’ athleticism and hustle, which contributed to 24 turnovers by the Herd.
“I think they’re pretty good,” he said. “They can be vulnerable. I think at times we showed that when we did break their pressure that we had 3-on-2s and 2-on-1s. We got good shots, but they’re going to play hard for 40 minutes. They’re relentless and you’ve got to respect that.”