INSTITUTE, W.Va. — The University of Charleston Golden Eagles picked up their 10th Mountain East Conference victory Saturday by holding off an impressive late run from West Virginia State to prevail, 86-83.
The Golden Eagles led by 14 points with 5 minutes left, but were outscored the rest of the way by the Yellow Jackets, 22-11.
West Virginia State trimmed the Charleston lead to two with 18 seconds left, but Anthony Pittman missed two free throws that would have tied the game. Following the missed free throws, UC’s Tyler Eberhart and Keith Williams combined to make 3-of-4 free throws.
“We have no control over whether or not [WVSU] make or miss free throws,” said Charleston head coach Dwaine Osborne. “You can call it luck or whatever. I thought when we were not fouling, we were doing what we wanted to do. What our game plan was we were doing that efficiently. The biggest thing that crushed us was rebounding the ball, especially down the stretch, and handling their pressure.
On a few occasions, UC fouled WVSU’s players on a 3-point attempt.
“That was a killer,” Osborne stated. “I thought if that does not happen, the game is different. Kudos to them for doing what they did.”
UC went into the break with a 16-point lead at 47-31. The Yellow Jackets outscored the Golden Eagles, 14-6, over the first 6:13 of the second half.
Osborne was pleased with how his team handled adversity.
“We talked during halftime and the first media timeout that they are a good team, and they will make a run,” Osborne said. “You cannot expect that to lead to grow to 30 to 40 to 50 and so on. They were going to make a run. Games usually have ebbs and flows. Each team has multiple runs throughout the game. It is a matter of which team can maximize their run and stretch it out as much as possible.”
Eddie Colbert III provided a spark off the bench connecting on three triples in a 4-minute stretch near the middle of the second half. Colbert finished the game with 21 points, shooting 64 percent from the field and 63 percent from behind the arc.
“He came through in the second half,” Osborne said. “Some of those threes he hit were monster shots. He has good looks at them. Regardless of what the percentages show, he is arguably the best shooter on our team. If you look over his career, he has been 40-plus in his first three years. He has not shot it well this season but has been working on it. I am thankful he comes in and cares enough about it to spend time on the gun when he is not shooting well.”
Eberhart collected his third double-double with a team-high 21 points, and 13 rebounds.
“Tyler is super important for us because he does so much for us,” Osborne said. “He is super versatile. He is a great passer. He can handle the ball in the press. He knows the system super well. That has been effective for us this season.”
Charleston was effective in limiting Pittman’s opportunities offensively. Pittman, WVSU’s second-leading scorer with an average of 14 points, was held in check with nine points.
“We tried to make it as difficult as possible for him,” Osborne stated. “He is super talented. I have a lot of respect for him as a player and for his ability. I am not sure if we did a great job at it. If you look at the box score, it would say we did. However, I do not think we did.”
There were three technical fouls during the game, including two from the Golden Eagles.
“Our emotional maturity is not good,” Osborne noted. “We are going to address that at practice come Monday. I feel like I can come up with some ways to learn. I have 48 hours to figure that out. To me, that is a maturity thing. You get caught up with things during the game. You cannot worry about what is going on around you.”
UC’s Keith Williams also poured in a double-figure performance with 17 points and made all 10 free-throw attempts.
WVSU’s Samier Kinsler led all scorers with 24 points, including four triples.