WVU Handles Lafayette Behind Holton's Big Day

West Virginia was without three of its forwards on Sunday against Lafayette, but the Mountaineers were still able to dominate the boards and score in the paint to score a 83-56 victory over the Leopards at the WVU Coliseum.

Junior forward Jonathan Holton recorded his first double-double in a Mountaineer uniform – and he did it with about 15 minutes remaining in the game. He finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds in what really was a coming out party for a player who has very high expectations this year.

"I just started to do what I do best - bring energy, be happy, stuff like that," Holton said after the game. "I just tried to slow down and let it come to me ... I had the right mindset that I was going to really go hard. I wasn't going to take a play off."

WVU was shorthanded in the front court, as the Mountaineers were forced to play without redshirt freshman forward Elijah Macon, who had a family emergency, and sophomore forward Brandon Watkins, who was out due to illness for the second straight game. Newcomer BillyDee Williams also missed his second game of the year after fracturing a bone around his eye in practice last week.

Without those players, the combination of Holton and sophomore forward Devin Williams was enough to dominate the paint. Williams had 15 points and 11 rebounds, his second double-double of the season.

"We want to get a lot more shots than what our opponent does. Today we did it in the ways we’re supposed to do it. We did a better job slowing down today," said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. "It takes a while to figure out that when you play that kind of frantic full court and you steal it, you still have to convert it on the other end. We didn’t really force it like we did on Friday."

Junior guard Jaysean Paige had his first double-digit scoring game of his WVU career, finishing with 16 points including a team-high 14 in the first half.

"I've kind of always been a scorer," Paige said. "Coming here, my role is a little bit different. I'm not going to shoot or score as much, but when it comes to shoot the ball when I'm open and they need me to hit them, I'm going to do that."

While not spectacular, senior point guard Juwan Staten was very efficient. He finished with 10 points and eight assists.

WVU did struggle to score at times; for the second straight game it had a stretch of 13 straight misses from the field. However, the Mountaineers improved their shooting percentage from Friday’s season opener to 38 percent (31-of-81) against the Leopards. West Virginia matched its final point total against Monmouth of 64 points with more than seven minutes to play on Sunday against Lafayette.

"This is what a lot closer to how we should be playing on a day-to-day basis," Staten said. "We tried to fix a lot of the mistakes we made in the last game, and I think that made a big difference."

West Virginia’s defense stayed stingy for most of the game until it got out of hand. The Mountaineers forced 20 turnovers, which led to 25 points, and outrebounded the Leopards by 19. WVU never trailed in the contest.

The Mountaineers moved to 2-0 following the win and head out of the country for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, where the young squad will really get its first test of the season.

Paige led West Virginia through a shaky first 12 minutes, as he hit all three of his 3-point attempts and scored 11 total points in that span to give the Mountaineers an 18-10 lead.

An 8-0 run by the Leopards brought them within six after WVU was able to take a 14-point advantage. However, West Virginia finished the half on an 11-2 run started by a three from freshman guard Daxter Miles.

In the final 2:29, Lafayette only managed one shot - a missed 3-pointer - and turned the ball over three times, as the Mountaineers began to assert their dominance defensively. Staten finished the half on a final-second drive and layup to take a 39-24 advantage into the break.

WVU would be forced into a timeout early in the second half, as Lafayette cut its halftime deficit of 15 to 11 at 41-29.

West Virginia would regain a more solid advantage shortly after, taking its first 20-point lead of the game on a jumper from Holton. The Leopards couldn't put more than a small dent in the WVU lead in the final minutes of the contest.

Lafayette was led by forward Dan Trist, who finished with 12 points.


BlueGoldNews Top Stories