A Second Helping of Alphabet Soup

West Virginia overcame a sluggish first half, after an eight-day break, to cruise to a 76-63 win over the IPFW Mastodons in a Sunday afternoon tilt at the Coliseum. A small, but enthusiastic group came out on a sunny afternoon in Morgantown to support Beilein's squad in its first action since the Christmas Holiday.

The Mountaineers started fast, jumping out to an 11-3 lead on the strength of three early three-point strikes, two from Jo Herber and one from Kevin Pittsnogle. IPFW came storming back, however, as WVU once again struggled to put the game away. The lead was only two at 14-12 with 11 minutes remaining in the opening period, and it appeared as if this would be another wire-to-wire battle with one of the Scrabble schools. But this time Schifino and crew were up to the task and the Mountaineers kept the lead. The game was still anybody's to win with just over two minutes to go with West Virginia clinging with all of its might to a 28-22 lead. That is when the home team began to pull away. Behind some stellar defensive play from standout forward Drew Schifino and a flurry of quick buckets, the Mountaineers went on a 10-1 run to close out the opening half with a 36-23 advantage.

Drew Schifino led the opening 20 minutes with 11 points, while Jo Herber was playing one of his best games of the year adding eight. The three-point ball was IPFW's kryptonite, as WVU hit on five first half bombs. It was defense, however, that propelled the late run, and IPFW ended the half with 10 turnovers to keep the Mountaineers ahead.

The second half was more of the same, with West Virginia's 1-3-1 defense flustering the Mastodons all afternoon and some solid shooting dooming the effort on the other end. The lead only grew as Herber and Schifino continued to dominate and long range strikes from J.D. Collins and Pat Beilein brought the crowd to its feet. The lead was 20 at 62-42 with just under nine minutes remaining, and the route was on. IPFW would not quit but the deficit was simply too large to overcome and West Virginia was well on its way to its sixth win of the season.

The final minutes were a chance for some of the walk-ons and scout team members who have seen little time on gamedays. Senior walk-on Jonathon Curran, who has dreamed of playing in the Coliseum growing up down the road in Clarksburg, and Buffalo, NY native Duriel "Juice" Price saw action in the closing minutes, but could not get on the board as the Mastodon starters cut into the lead. The scoreboard flashed a 76-63 West Virginia advantage as the final horn sounded and a happy crowd exited the Coliseum into the unseasonably warm weather.

Drew Schifino once again led the WVU attack with 21 points, as he moved to the top of the country with 47 straight double figure games. The junior forward also pulled down eight rebounds in one of his best games of the season. Sophomore guard Jo Herber also played one of the best games of his Mountaineer career, chipping in 15 points including two three-point strikes. Junior big-man D'or Fischer continued to impress fans and coaches with an eight point and eight rebound performance.

As a team, the Blue & Gold shot an impressive 46% from the field, including a 10-20 mark from behind the money-ball stripe. Nine different Mountaineers added points to the board, including Jerrah Young who recently entered the WVU lineup after Beilein made the decision to pull the freshman's redshirt.

Junior center David Simon lead the way for the Mastodons (2-9) with 19 points, while senior forward Keion Henderson added 11 on a five for five shooting mark from the charity stripe.

West Virginia (6-3) returns to action Tuesday at 8 p.m. for a meeting with Howard at the WVU Coliseum before hitting the road eight days later for its first conference game with Notre Dame.


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