After a time out, Drew Schifino shot a three to put the Mountaineers on the board but WVU had a force on the court they didn't expect to have to contend with, Sean Axani. Considered a role player since he was recruited, Axani was doing it all. Sean was blocking shots, rebounding and scoring on the inside. Axani's inside play and Coleman's outside shooting kept the lead at 10 points (15-5) with ten minutes to go in the first half.
The Knights gave up that lead. Keying on bad shots put up by the Knights, WVU used transition basketball to get right back into the game15-11 with eight minutes to go in the half. A Drew Schifino three pointer at the six and a half minute mark cut the RU lead to15-14 but Jerome Coleman and Calvin Wooten answered with a three and two respectively to put the Knights up 20-16.
Two long threes by WVU gave them at 22-20 lead at the three minute mark, giving them a lead that they held and carried into the locker room.
Most of the resurgence of the Mountaineers was the result of solid zone defense coupled with good work on the boards. Clearly, Gary Waters task was to find a way to attack that zone defense and push the Knights to the type of backboard dominance that they had early in the game.
Jerome Coleman led the Knights with 8 points at half time, Herve Lamizana had 7, Sean Axani had 6.
Three minutes into the second half WVU had upped its lead to 34-26 and RU no showed indication of solving the Mountaineer zone. WVU's Drew Schifino was doing the damage for the Mountaineers both from inside and outside the three point line.
Waters called time out but it was difficult to see any strategy that emerged from the time out. Rutgers was still standing around outside of the perimeter of the WVU zone and the Knights unable to convert on a couple of steals.
At the thirteen minute mark a "downtown" three by Calvin Wooten cut the Mounties' lead to seven and a few seconds later a downtowner by Jerome Coleman cut the lead further to four.
Schifino answered with a "three" but Wooten answered back with a two and by now the crowd was in the game. That wouldn't last for long. After a WVU miss, Herve Lamizana made a driving two pointer but went out of the game with an injury to his ankle. That iced the crowd and iced the Knights. Kareem Wright took Herve's place both teams struggled to score after that point. The little scoring that was done was from the free throw line and by the eight minute mark WVU was still hanging onto a 41-37 lead.
At that point a pattern started to set in. The Knights kept making runs at the Mountaineers, occasionally cutting the lead to three or two, but the Knights couldn't hit foul shots. Each time that RU threatened to close, WVU scored key points after missed Rutgers free throws to keep WVU ahead in the game. With minute and a half to go WVU still had a 5 point lead.
A Jerome Coleman two cut that lead to three with 40 seconds to go and Rutgers was forced to foul off the in bound. WVU's Kevin Pittsnoogle hit both. Jerome Coleman was fouled on a drive to the basket and hit both free throws to cut the Mountaineer lead back to three.
On the inbound Rutgers was again forced to foul. Again the Mountaineers hit both. Herve Lamizana was back in the game and made a wild three pointer that missed badly and that, basically, was all she wrote.
Final Score West Virginia 52 , Rutgers 46.
Jerome Coleman led the Knights with 16 points, Herve Lamizana had 11. West Virginia Drew Schifino led all scorers with 24.
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Drew Schifino scored 24 points and, despite scoring just two baskets in the final 12:10, West Virginia took a 52-46 victory over Rutgers on Saturday.
West Virginia (13-9, 4-6) moved ahead of Rutgers (11-11, 3-7) into fifth place in the Big East's West Division and by beating the Scarlet Knights for the second time this year earned the tiebreaker if the two teams are tied at season's end.
CBS.SportsLine.com - West Virginia 52, Rutgers 46
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