Swingman Joe Herber, playing both guard and forward, scored fifteen points to lead the Mountaineer offense. Showing a willingness to take the ball to the basket more aggressively, Heber hit six shots from the field on a variety of moves. Tyrone Sally recorded a double-double with 1o points and 11 rebounds, and showed a defensive ferocity that has been lacking in recent games. He teamed on the defensive end with D'or Fischer to help hold the visiting Hoyas to just 31% shooting from the field.
Fischer blocked six shots in the first half, altered several others, and forced the Hoyas to abandon their inside game for much of the contest. Georgetown (10-2, 1-2) was unable to hit the midrange shots that they were forced to take as Fischer closed off the interior and his teammates defended the three point line, and as a result the Mountaineers were able to grab their first conference win of the young season.
"I thought that for three quarters of the game we had a hard time handling their 1-3-1 zone," Georgetown coach Craig Esherick said. "They play it a little bit different than some other teams, and they do a good job with it. We practiced against it for two days, but in the first half we just couldn't do anything right. They did a real good job of confusing us."
The first half was a defensive affair, with both teams allowing few open looks and failing to convert on the few opportunities they did get. WVU held the Hoyas without a point for the first four minutes of the half, but couldn't take advantage of their effort as their offense, with players at new positions, struggled to get a good shot. WVU played both Tyler Relph and Jarmon Durisseau-Collins together at times, played Joe Herber and Tyrone Sally at the small forward spot, and looked disjointed and out of synch for large stretches of the half.
With the score tied at 15 with just 5:52 to go in the period, WVU scored the final seven points to take a 22-15 halftime lead into the locker room. Both teams shot under 30% in the opening period, as defense dominated the action.
The second half started out as a carbon copy of the first, as West Virginia held the Hoyas without a point for the first 4:14 of the second half. By that time, WVU had moved out to a 13-point lead, but the Hoyas responded with a 16-2 run of their own to cut the home team's lead to two with just under ten minutes to go in the game.
The pace of the game, so long stagnant at this point, began to quicken as West Virginia mounted a run of their own. WVU pushed the lead back out to 13 points over the next five minutes, and appeared to be in control as they held that margin with just 4:12 to go in the game. Georgetown, however had one more run left in them. The Hoyas scored ten quick points to cut WVU's lead to three at 49-46, but from there on out WVU came up with all the big plays to secure the win.
The Mountaineers hit 13 of their final 18 free throws, and came up with a key offensive rebound off a pair of those misses, which countered Georgetown's 12 points over the same span. The Mountaineers did not score a field goal in the last 5:23 of the game, but managed to hold on for the win.
"We didn't shoot well, but we found a way to win," head coach John Beilein noted. "Our kids really went after it and played hard every second of the game. We really seemed connected out there today."
WVU faces Virginia Tech on Wednesday at the Coliseum in another important home game for the Mountaineers.