Notre Dame's move up the Big East Conference standings will have to wait a bit.
The Irish had hoped to move into a tie for ninth in the league with a win over West Virginia on Wednesday night, but they lost 79-68 in Morgantown.
Instead, Notre Dame (14-11, 5-8) now sits in a three-way tie for 10th in the conference along with Seton Hall and Georgetown. West Virginia (18-8, 7-6) jumps up into a tie for eighth with Cincinnati.
The Irish's next chance to get back in the winning column comes on Saturday at Providence (16-9, 8-5).
"For us, if you could split this week it'd be a heck of a thing. That's what you were realistically looking at," Irish head coach Mike Brey told the Notre Dame Radio Network after the game. "We go to Providence and play a very good Providence team. You can't hang your head, this group won't, we'll be ready to play Saturday."
"He gave them confidence," Brey said. "He was really hard to guard. We tried a little bit of everything, some zone, some box-and-one. The thing about it is when we finally had him missing a few we couldn't clean up the backboard and get a rebound."
West Virginia outrebounded the Irish 40-27.
"They hurt us on the backboard," Brey said. "That was a real issue, not being able to control the backboard as good as we did at home and that kind of cost us."
The Irish started fast, making 10 of their first 12 field goal attempts with every starter scoring in the first five minutes. But Notre Dame cooled off, making just seven of its final 19 shots in the half, and allowed the Mountaineers to climb back in and eventually take the lead.
"I thought we were really ready to play," Brey said. "You're thinking when you have 40 at the half you're going to get up into the 80s, but we couldn't get into a rhythm. I think their defense, you've got to give them a little credit too."
West Virginia was able to maintain its lead in opening minutes of the second half and grew its advantage to 12 eight minutes into half after a Ruoff jumper off the glass over Harangody put the Mountaineers up 58-46.
Notre Dame trailed 62-51 with eight minutes to play before a 6-0 run cut the lead in half. Wellington Smith rattled home a dunk in the lane to gave the Mountaineers an eight-point lead, but a Harangody three-point play followed by a free throw by the big guy brought the deficit back down to four.
Ebanks and Jones made consecutive buckets for the Mountaineers to make it an eight-point game again with three minutes to go.
West Virginia's Cam Thoroughman drained a pair of free throws after a struggle for a loose ball with Harangody to give the Mountaineers a 10-point advantage with 2:34 to play. Ruoff made two more free throws on the next trip to give West Virginia a commanding lead and the Irish were forced to foul in the final minutes.
The Irish led by as many as 10 in the first half before the Mountaineers began to take control of the game.
McAlarney's three-pointer from the corner after a deep miss on the previous possession gave Notre Dame a 10-2 lead three minutes into the game. Layups by Zach Hillesland and McAlarney stretched the lead to 14-4 less than two minutes later.
Ebanks carried the Mountaineers early with six points in the first four minutes, but a three-pointer from Luke Zeller with 12:28 to go in the first half pushed the Irish margin to 21-11.
With just under 10 minutes remaining in the half, Ruoff pulled the Mountaineers closer at 25-21 with seven straight West Virginia points.
Jonathan Peoples came off the bench with eight points in just four first-half minutes as the Irish boosted their lead to 32-23 before a Ruoff three cut it to 32-26. Another Ruoff three less than a minute later brought the Mountaineers to with three, 33-30 with 5:30 left in the half.
The teams traded baskets before a strong move by Ruoff on the inside brought the score to 37-36 with two minutes to play in the half. Ayers knocked down a three-pointer, but consecutive buckets from Jones tied the game with less than a minute to play before a Butler layup in the final seconds gave West Virginia a 42-40 lead at the break.
After scoring seven points in the first five minutes, McAlarney finished the half with nine points while Harangody led the Irish with 10 points, but had just three rebounds. The Irish were outrebounded in the first half 19-11 and the Mountaineers had a 10-4 margin on the offensive glass.
Ruoff led all scorers in the first half with 15 points while Butler had seven on just 3-of-9 shooting. Smith, Ebanks and Jones added six points each for the Mountaineers.