AMES, Iowa — Jaysean Paige scored 23 points including the go-ahead 3 with 1:05 left and Devin Williams played like a monster on the boards as No. 14 West Virginia rallied from 15 points down to stun No. 13 Iowa State 81-76.
The Mountaineers (18-4, 7-2), who won for the first time in four tries at Hilton Coliseum, remained tied for the Big 12 lead with Oklahoma at the midpoint of the 18-game round-robin. They did so in large part because Williams produced 17 points and a career-high 18 rebounds.
With the Iowa State crowd of 14,384 roaring in the final 2 minutes, Williams also made six straight free throws to hand the Cyclones (16-6, 5-4) only their seventh home loss in 79 games.
“I was dialed in, baby. It was time to win,” he said.
Georges Niang scored 20 points while also committing eight of Iowa State’s 16 turnovers. Abdel Nader finished with 19 points and point guard Monte Morris, named a Cousy Award finalist on Monday, contributed nine points and 10 assists in 39 turnover-free minutes.
Iowa State also sank 11-of-22 from 3-point range, yet a double-digit first-half lead evaporated as the Cyclones were outrebounded 43-26 and their bench outscored 39-10.
Niang scored 13 in the second half, twice putting Iowa State ahead in the final 5 minutes, before gritty West Virginia closed with a 9-2 run.
“We weren’t able to finish,” said coach Steve Prohm, whose Cyclones faded in similar fashion against Texas A&M on Saturday. “Obviously this is a tough loss, a frustrating loss.”
“Offensive rebounding,” lamented Niang. “We could have a done a better job cutting out Williams. He was big. We got out-toughed when it came down to making winning plays.”
Williams grabbed six offensive boards, helping West Virginia to an 18-6 edge in second-chance points. Though he wasn’t credited with a rebound on Tarik Phillip’s missed one-and-one with 22 seconds left, Williams batted the ball back toward Phillip, who was fouled again and sank two free throws to ice it at 79-74.
“They get the rebound at the free-throw line when we had an opportunity at a one-possession game,” Prohm said. “That killed us.”
Reeling off six points in 52 seconds, West Virginia took its first lead at 46-45 after a steal led to a cutback by Daxter Miles, who scored 11. An Iowa State timeout couldn’t stem the rally as Paige drove for another layup and the 16-5 run swelled the visitors’ lead to 56-50.
Paige shot 10-of-17 mostly on aggressive drives before his biggest basket—a 3-pointer that put West Virginia ahead 75-74—victimized Iowa State’s sagging defense.
“A lot of teams don’t think we can shoot the ball and percentage-wise we haven’t been,” Paige said. “So those shots are going to be open.”
For the second straight road game, the Mountaineers fell into a deep early hole. In Saturday’s loss at Florida they trailed 21-8 in the opening nine minutes, and this time they were down 23-8 after Niang’s jumper capped a 10-0 run.
Paige scored six points during a 9-0 late-half spurt that closed the margin to 30-28.
“There’s a lot of things our players don’t do well, but they do compete,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “They don’t ever give in.”
Holton out again: Mountaineers forward Jonathan Holton (suspension) missed his second consecutive game. The senior was averaging 9.7 points and 7.5 rebounds and leading the team in deflections as the front man on the full-court press. He is expected to miss Saturday’s home game against Baylor before returning next week at Kansas.
Rare home slip: Iowa State fell to 10-2 at Hilton, the first season with multiple home losses since 2011-12.
Tremendous Morris: Morris has 40 assists and two turnovers in the five career matchups against West Virginia.
“When we get a chance to play them down there (in Morgantown), we should play harder,” he said.