Louisiana Monroe came into this contest having played two-straight games on the road, including a 54-50 loss last night in Happy Valley against Penn State.
Coming into this game, the Mountaineers had won 55 of their last 59 home games in the month of December and 61 of their last 65 non-conference games at the WVU Coliseum.
For the third-straight game, the Warhawks were without their leading scorer, senior Majok Deng, who scores at a clip of 18.3 points per game and pulls down 7.3 rebounds per contest.
In their first eight games of the year, the No. 14 Mountaineers struggled to shoot from beyond the arc, checking in with a 27-percent success rate from 3. They were true to form in the early going of this matchup with the Warhawks, missing four of their first five shots from deep.
The one successful early long range attempt came off the hand of the recently maligned point guard, Jevon Carter. After being benched following a bad turnover that swung the tide of momentum in Virginia’s favor Tuesday night, Carter shared an embrace with his coach before the tip Sunday afternoon. He missed his first three shots of the game, but drained a 3 from the wing to inject some life into the Coliseum crowd in the early going.
Senior forward Jamaal Samuel single-handedly kept the Warhawks close in the game’s first eight minutes, scoring Louisiana Monroe’s first 15 points.
The Mountaineers used a 15-4 run that lasted just under four minutes to space their lead out to 23-11 with 12:12 left in the first half, forcing Warhawks’ coach Keith Richard to take a timeout to stop the bleeding.
It took 12:36 of the first half for someone not named Jamaal Samuel to check into the box score for the Warhawks, as Justin Roberson split a pair of free throws to bring the score to 37-16.
West Virginia’s leading scorer, junior forward Devin Williams, scored for the first time with 5:14 left in the first half. The Mountaineers had built up a 41-18 lead by that point, without a bucket from their most consistent option on offense.
Jevon Carter went on a 12-0 run all by himself late in the first half, converting one of two free throws, nailing a 3, tossing in a lay-up after a steal by freshman Esa Ahmad, canning another 3 after yet another steal – this time by Tarik Phiilip – and capped it off by splashing a wide open 3 from the corner to bring the crowd to full throat.
“It’s always good when your teammate can get a streak going. We’re going to try to go to that streak, you know, whoever’s got the hot hand. That’s my guy. He’s been in the gym and it shows. He’s been in the gym and it definitely shows,” said sophomore guard Daxter Miles Jr.
Carter’s run really removed all doubt from the rest of the game, as West Virginia went into the locker room with a comfortable 59-26 advantage.
The Mountaineers came out cold in the second half, missing seven of their first eight from the field out of the gate in the final period. Elijah Macon broke that cold spell after getting an offensive rebound of a Brandon Watkins miss and putting the ball right back up for a lay-up to give WVU a 31-point lead while halting a mini 6-0 run by ULM.
For a team that has struggled to find the range from 3-point land this year, West Virginia certainly wasn’t shy about chucking up 3s this afternoon. The Mountaineers launched a season-high 36 shots from deep, converting 16, which shattered their previous high of 25 attempts in the season-opener against Northern Kentucky.
With the win, West Virginia moves to 8-1 on the season, and will be in action next when it takes on in-state rival Marshall in the Capital Classic in Charleston Thursday night. The Herd currently sit at 2-6 for the season, but are coming off a 96-72 shellacking of Eastern Kentucky. They will take on North Capital Central Tuesday night before the tilt with WVU.
“We’re just focusing on what we can focus on and it feels good to get the win tonight,” Miles Jr. said.