WVU survives, beats Marshall 69-66

It’s very rare to see a Capital Classic showdown between West Virginia and Marshall not go down to the wire and be decided by just a handful of points. And Sunday’s edition of the in-state rivalry was no exception.

After trailing by as many as eight points in the second half, the Mountaineers were able to do what they needed to do to survive and leave the Charleston Civic Center with a 69-66 victory.

It was WVU’s fourth win in a row against Marshall, as the Mountaineers were led by Juwan Staten, Jevon Carter and Gary Browne down the stretch to preserve the victory.

“It was a dogfight until the end,” Carter said. “It started out bad, they came out really aggressive and we just had to answer them.”

Trailing by four, Marshall guard Justin Edmonds hit his fourth shot from beyond the arc of the game to cut the WVU lead to one with 15.6 seconds to play in the game, and sent Staten to the free throw line for two crucial ones with less than 10 seconds left.

After Staten hit both, JP Kambola’s three to send the game to overtime at the buzzer hit off the rim and fell to the court, allowing the Mountaineers to escape.

The Herd and West Virginia traded punches back and forth for much of the first half, with neither team able to completely seize the momentum and build a sizable lead during the game’s opening 20 minutes of play.

The closest the Mountaineers were able to get started about midway through the half, when the game was tied 13-13. West Virginia was able to get a few nice looks from close at the basket and was able to build a six-point lead, its largest of the half. But, as it did for a big portion of the game, Marshall came right back at West Virginia with everything it had. The Thundering Herd stormed back with a 9-0 run of their own before the end of the half.

A Jonathan Holton free throw and bucket by Jevon Carter at the buzzer tied it up heading into the locker room.

Marshall picked up right where it left off in the second half, starting out on fire – not missing its first shot until 10 minutes into the half. During this stretch, MU stretched its lead to as many as eight points thanks to a few big shots by Austin Loop and a handful of other players on the roster.

WVU had to play much of the second half without Staten, who picked up his third foul with 14:33 to play and stayed on the bench until checking back in with 4:14 left in the game. During those 10 minutes that he was on the bench, the Mountaineers outscored the Thundering Herd 23-15.

Senior guard Gary Browne and sophomore Tarik Phillip stepped up in his absence, running the point and setting everything up for the Mountaineers during that stretch.

“It says a lot about our team. We have a lot of guys who have a lot of fight in them,” Staten said. “We have a lot of competitors and that’s what our team is made of. Every day we come out and compete, and I’m glad to see it translate to the game.”

Staten had 15 points and three assists to lead four Mountaineers in double figures. Carter and Holton chipped in 14 points apiece, while Browne finished with 10.

Edmonds was the star of the game for Marshall, finishing with 18 points, six rebounds and six assists.

West Virginia scored 33 points off the 24 turnovers it forced in the game, and had 24 second-chance points.

WVU will take the court again next Saturday at Madison Square Garden against North Carolina State.

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