Hot Mountaineer Start Hands Billikens First Loss

Kevin Pittsnogle had four quick points to start the game, and Drew Schifino came alive in the second half as West Virginia rebounded from Saturday's home loss to get a small dose of revenge over a St. Louis team that handed them a 30 point loss last season.

West Virginia scored the first six points of the game and never trailed, as the favored Billikens shot an abysmal 25.9% in the first half and committed eight turnovers to help spark the Mountaineers to a 66-56 win.

Schifino was held to two points in the first half, but the Mountaineer offense was spread among a host of players as WVU moved out to a 27-19 halftime lead. Pittsnogle had seven first half points, D'or Fischer had six points, three rebounds and three blocks and J.D. Collins chipped in five points, as WVU proved they could survive the first half without a hot shooting Schifino.

Schifino looked frustrated at times in the first half, and was benched after a wild three pointer in his first shot of the game. He sat for five minutes, his longest stretch of the season, while Frank Young came in and played some nice defense and banged home a three ball of his own in helping WVU to a 27-19 lead at the break.

Schifino took out his frustrations on the Billikens in the second half as he poured in 16 second half points, including a huge three pointer with 1:19 to play in the game to help thwart a strong St. Louis rally.

Reggie Bryant and Anthony Drejaj got hot in the second half after WVU had stormed out of the gates to take a 39-25 lead with 15:24 to play.

Drejaj, however, wasn't about to give up on his squad and drilled three clutch second half three pointers to get St. Louis back in the game at 42-40 with 10:04 to play in the game.

Pittsnogle went to the lane hard on WVU's next possession and drew a foul, and calmly made two clutch free throws to extend the lead back to six points.

Then after Drejaj missed a three ball of his own, freshman Tyler Relph canned a three pointer from far behind the line to stretch the WVU lead back to seven points at 47-40.

The Billies would not give up, but they wouldn't get closer than eight points until another late run gave St. Louis hope.

Trailing 60-50, St. Louis' Justin Johnson canned a jumper from the lane and then with 1:30 to play Anthony Bryant, who nailed two second half threes, hit his second and the WVU lead was down to 60-55.

That is when Schifino stuck the dagger in the hearts of the Billikens and sent them back into the frigid night air with a three pointer that extended the lead back to eight with 1:19 to go in the contest. D'or Fisher calmly drained two free throws of his own to close out the Mountaineers scoring, and WVU was back on the road to Morgantown with a hard fought 66-56 win over the previously 3-0 Billikens.

Pittsnogle finished with 11 points, five rebounds, one block and a steal in his best game of the young season. Fischer finished a perfect 5-5 from the field, 2-2 from the line, with 12 points, eight boards and three blocks. Neither Mountaineer big man missed a shot the entire game.

WVU goes on the road this Saturday to the BB&T Classic in Washington D.C. to take on George Washington. The Mountaineers will then play the winner of the second game, which pits Maryland against Gonzaga, in what should be a barn burner.

St. Louis returns home Saturday to face Arizona on ESPN2 at noon.

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