An eruption of scoring in the second half helped lead the team to their 12th win of the season, and closed the team’s non-conference schedule. Behind Gary Browne’s scoring run the No. 17 Mountaineers created separation early in the second half to dominate Virginia Tech late in the game.
Although the second half was much different, the first half looked as if the game might have been a nail biter. WVU held a consistent lead, but the Hokies never disappeared. Juwan Staten said the intensity level was a major contributor to the lack of separation between the two teams in the first half.
“At times we would make good play, and get ready to go on a run, but we’d let them get right back in it,” Staten said. “We needed to fight against being complacent.”
West Virginia never trailed, but like Staten said WVU always let Virginia Tech right back in the mix. At the 11:37 mark WVU led 20-11 and had momentum after a layup by Nathan Adrien from a Devin Williams assist. But two turnovers and a bad possession later VT closed the gap to 21-16. The back and forth battle continued and VT only found themselves down by three at halftime after Justin Bibbs nailed a three to close the lead to 33-30.
Any complacency the Mountaineers felt quickly disappeared. Browne caught fire, and the senior guard hit a three, to stole the inbounds for a layup, and came down two possessions later to hit another three to build the lead to 34-48. He scored 10 of the first 17 points in the second half, and his hot hand steered the way for WVU’s second half dominance.
“Everyone was trying to get themselves started instead of moving the ball,” said Devin Williams. “In the second half we just settled down, and played amongst each other.”
The selfless style of play in the second half led to 15 total assists compared to only six in the first half. The game turned into highlight after highlight for the Mountaineers for the rest of the night. Multiple alley-oops and fast break points kept the fans entertained for the rest of the game and sealed the Mountaineers twelfth win of the year.
Leaders in points for the night were Staten with 18 and Browne with 12. Devin Williams finished one point shy of a double-double with 11 rebounds, but only nine points.