It can be difficult, in the immediate aftermath of a tough loss, not to mention a season-ending one, for coaches and players to put together their thoughts and harness their emotions. Still, West Virginia assistants were front and center for interviews and comments following WVU's one-and-done showing in Brooklyn. Both Erik Martin and Ron Everhart had some similar touchstones in the loss, but both agreed that the avalanche of turnovers that buried the Mountaineers was front and center.
The numbers there were staggering. WVU has 12 turnovers at halftime -- about the total it hoped to limit itself to in the entire game. Everhart noted that the Lumberjacks had 18 points off West Virginia miscues at the break, and those numbers didn't stop climbing. By the end of the game, the Mountaineers had gifted SFA with the ball a staggering 22 times -- and the 14th seed capitalized with 29 points as a direct result. That's how a team that made less than 31% of its shots from the field was able to win going away.
SFA also turned another usual WVU advantage on its head. By committing just seven turnovers of its own, the Lumberjacks outshot the Mountaineers by three attempts. Combined with an 0-11 performance from 3-point range by West Virginia's guards, that allowed SFA to offset a -15 rebound deficit.
In the lead interview above, Everhart detailed some of the numbers, but also noted that the Mountaineers didn't convert on their end either.
"We had our opportunities," the veteran coach observed. "We missed shots that you have to make to win a game like this. But you have to give them a lot of credit. They were well prepared and played hard. We just turned it over too many times. They had 18 points at halftime off of turnovers. Live ball turnovers come back to haunt you."
Perhaps most distressingly, WVU was not the most aggressive team on the court. More than one player felt that was the case, and Everhart agreed.
"There were a lot of plays where we got outworked, and plays where mentally we weren't where we needed to be," he summed up.
Fellow assistant Martin believed that WVU's players did pay attention to the scout, but were just simply outplayed. Like Everhart, he worked the sidelines hard during the game, but the messages being distributed just didn't register. Noting "We're Press Virginia", Martin also pointed out the turnover disparity and lost opportunities.
Those were many and easy to see. WVU continually picked up the ball against SFA pressure and threw passes right into the teeth of their ball denial defense. Passes into the post violated were off target, soft and ripe for picking, and every player at one time or another put the ball on the floor, only to see it scooped up by a defender. Only Brandon Watkins and Richard Romeo, who combined for a total of five minutes, did not suffer a giveaway.
"It's an NCAA game, so I do [feel like the team paid attention]," Martin said . [Director of Basketball Operations] Josh [Eilert] put video up so everyone could watch it. Scout or not, they outplayed us today."