West Virginia displeased with 75-64 win over Stony Brook

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia will take a 10-2 record into Big 12 Conference play after producing its desired outcome Thursday in a 75-64 victory against Stony Brook.

However, the Mountaineers were anything but satisfied with their latest performance after struggling to pull away from the Seawolves for 30 minutes.

“It was pathetic,” WVU guard Erik Stevenson said. “Just a bad performance as a team. No disrespect to them, but we should beat them by 40. We didn’t help ourselves when it comes to metrics and numbers, but a win is a win. I’m going to take it every time. I was pretty hot at halftime and pretty hot after the game. I’m not pleased with it. Those are a trap game and they’re never easy to play.” 

WVU shot 41.8 percent — its second-worst mark this season — and had to out-rebound the Seawolves by five over the second half to finish even on the boards at 33 apiece.

“We don’t pass the ball to open guys. We give up straight line drives,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said after recording his 926th career win. “We don’t rebound the ball. We foul excessively even when the officials tell them stop fouling or they’ll blow the whistle. They continue to foul. It’s an easy way out.”

Save for Kedrian Johnson’s 12 first-half points en route to scoring a game-high 18, no other Mountaineer went to halftime with more than five points.

As a result, West Virginia settled for a 28-24 halftime lead despite getting off to a strong start and building a 13-4 advantage.

“I’m always telling guys to lock in and focus and we weren’t,” Stevenson said. “We weren’t for the first half of Buffalo [on Sunday] or this game for 30 minutes. Two bad performances back-to-back and if we do that our next 2 games, we’ll be coming back here 0-2 [in Big 12 play].”

Following a driving bucket from guard Kobe Johnson, who started in place of an injured Emmitt Matthews Jr., the Mountaineers led 15-7 at the 13:40 mark.

They then went more than 7 minutes without a field goal, before Kedrian Johnson broke a 17-all tie with a pull-up jumper 6:19 before halftime. That was the start of a 7-0 personal run from WVU’s starting point guard, who added a 3-pointer and two free throws to leave the Mountaineers with a 24-17 advantage.

After matching its largest first-half lead at nine points courtesy of a James Okonkwo dunk, Huggins’ team fell into another lull late in the opening half and Stony Brook (4-9) scored five unanswered points on a Toby Onyekonwu triple and Tanahj Pettway’s driving basket to trail 28-24 at the break.

“You play that bad and you’re more excited about going home than you are about getting better, you probably ought to stay home,” Huggins said.

Onyekonwu, who entered the matchup with three 3s over seven appearances this season, made three triples in the opening half.

Joe Toussaint was on the floor to start the second half in favor of Kobe Johnson, who logged 15 first-half minutes but did not play after halftime.

“It wasn’t that there wasn’t any room,” Huggins said. “Jamel [King] deserved a chance and those other guys that we played deserve a chance.”

Toussaint began the second-half scoring with a trey, before the Seawolves used an 8-2 spurt and trimmed their deficit to 33-32 courtesy of Frankie Policelli’s triple with 17:24 remaining.

Stony Brook, which never led, got no closer.

The Mountaineers began to create separation when they responded with eight unanswered points, which came on two Toussaint free throws and 3s from Stevenson and Tre Mitchell.

Utilizing a four-guard lineup that consisted of Kedrian Johnson, Toussaint, Stevenson and Seth Wilson, West Virginia kept Stony Brook at bay and took its first-double digit advantage at 49-39 on a pair of Jimmy Bell free throws with 10:44 remaining.

“This is called a trap game, that one game before Christmas,” Toussaint said. “No disrespect to them, but it’s a low-major team. it tests your mind. It was ugly. I’m glad we came out in the second half strong.” 

Bell’s free throws were the start of a 13-2 spurt over a span of 3:33 that enabled WVU to build its largest lead of 19 points.

Toussaint scored five straight WVU points following Bell’s free throws, before Seth Wilson accounted for two of his three second-half triples within 33 seconds, putting Stony Brook in a 60-41 hole.

Stevenson’s 3 with 4:48 to play made it 65-48, but the Seawolves countered with seven straight points to close to within 10 on Pettway’s layup at the 3:35 mark.

“At one point, we were up 19 and that’s on me, Erik and Keedy to not let them bring it back down,” Toussaint said.

The Seawolves got as close as 66-57 down the stretch before Wilson made his final trey with 2:03 remaining.

After not attempting a free throw in the first half, Stony Brook made all 15 of its foul shots in the second half, which allowed the Seawolves to hang around longer than the Mountaineers would have liked.

“How smart do you have to be to say, ‘Hey these guys can make free throws, we probably ought to stop fouling them,” Huggins said.

Kedrian Johnson led all players with 18 points, made all eight of his free throws and recorded a game-high three steals.

Stevenson scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half and Toussaint scored all 12 of his points after halftime. Wilson scored all nine of his points on 3s

Bell’s six boards were a team-high. 

WVU held a 14-2 advantage in second-chance points and 20-11 in points off turnovers thanks to forcing 14 and committing eight. 

Stony Brook’s high scorer Tyler Stephenson-Moore matched Stevenson with 16 points and 12 in the second half.

Kenan Sarvan scored 13 in defeat, while Onyekonwu and Pettway added 11 and 10, respectively.

Policelli led all players with 14 rebounds, including 11 in the opening half.

“Just not happy how we ended our preseason,” Stevenson said. “It’s good for us a little bit and humbles some guys.” 

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