Rutgers Drops Home Finale to WVU, 65-54

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers played its final home game of the season Sunday at the Rutgers Athletic Center, and the path to the result was a familiar one. The Scarlet Knights missed open jumpers and shot 7.7 percent from 3-point range and also were beaten badly on the boards in a 65-54 loss to West Virginia.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – James Beatty had a wide-open 3-pointer and missed in the closing minutes. So did Jonathan Mitchell, and then Mike Coburn.

Rutgers' seniors continued their trend of playing hard, but in the end making the few key shots and corralling a few must-have defensive rebounds were beyond their reach.

And the result, as well as the script, rang familiar.

The Scarlet Knights shot 7.7 percent from 3-point range and lost for the eighth time in nine games, a 65-54 senior day setback to West Virginia that virtually ended their hopes of the post season.

Rutgers coach Mike Rice said he would not accept a postseason bid unless the Scarlet Knights (13-15, 4-12 Big East) were above .500. Just to ensure a.500 finish, the Scarlet Knights need to win at DePaul and Providence to close the season, and win two games in the conference tournament.

"It's the second game in a row of not stepping up and knocking down some shots," Rutgers coach Mike Rice said. "I thought we worked for great shots. I thought our discipline and our ability to be good teammates in the second half was outstanding.

Beatty finished with two points and two assists before fouling out with 52.4 seconds remaining. Mitchell shot 2 of 11 from the field and scored eight points. Coburn had 20 points on 8 of 16 shooting, but also took a number of questionable shots.

"The beginning of the game I felt great, and then I kinda went through a dry spell and didn't really touch the ball that much," Mitchell said. "But you've got to be ready to shoot at all times, and I just think the shots weren't falling. There were a few shots that as soon as it left my hand, I knew it wasn't going in. It just felt off. I think my rhythm was a little off."

Rutgers was 1 of 13 from 3-point range, and was out-rebounded in the second half 23-9.

But it was Rutgers' inability to stem a pair of late West Virginia (18-10, 9-7) runs that was the bugaboo.

After taking a 42-39 lead with 10:31 left on Dane Miller's lay-in, the Mountaineers responded with an 11-0 run, led by Casey Mitchell's eight points, as Rutgers went scoreless for nearly four minutes. During the possession West Virginia possession of the run, the Mountaineers grabbed three offensive rebounds before Mitchell made a 3-pointer.

West Virginia's John Flowers had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Kevin Jones added 12 points and 11 rebounds. Darryl Bryant led the team with 15 points.

"There was a stretch where I think they got four rebounds in a row and they got six in three minutes," Miller said. "Those possessions, I wasn't in the game, and I don't think Gil (Biruta) was in the game. I'm not saying other guys couldn't do it, but at the same time, when you're two best rebounders are out of the game, then it's kind of hard."

And when the Scarlet Knights trimmed the deficit to 53-52 with 2:50 to play, West Virginia's Joe Mazzulla hit a pair of free throws to start a 9-0 run, during which Beatty, Mitchell and Coburn each missed open 3-point attempts.

"Us seniors, we really, really wanted to leave our final home game with a win," Coburn said. "It didn't happen that way, but we fought hard and we played tough."

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