Demoralizing Loss

West Virginia shot the ball well, but didn't get enough chances to offset an unlikely run of shooting luck buy Virginia Tech as they dropped a disheartening 69-67 conference game to the Holies on Wednesday.

"We won't lose too many games when whe shoot 55%, but Virginia Tech hit a lot of tough shots tonight," head coach John Beilein said after the game, which dropped the Mountaineers to 8-5 overall and 1-2 in the league.

The Hokies, nothing more than an average shooting team, got several nice rolls and bounces as they hit 62.5% of their second half shots to tally from a one point halftime deficit for the two point win.

West Virginia, trying to restructure their offense after the departure of leading scorer Drew Schifino, actually didn't play badly on the offensive end. The Mountaineers emphasized getting the ball inside to the post, and although no one put up big scoring numbers, the front line of D'or Fischer, Kevin Pittsnogle and Tyrone Sally combined for 25 points on the evening.

The problem for the Mountaineers was that they got only 45 shots in the slow-paced game - 12 fewer than the visiting Techsters. WVU gave up 12 offensive rebounds while grabbing just seven of their own, and also had six more turnovers than their opponents. Those lost possesions proved critical as the Mountaineers, who led most of the game, fell behind down the stretch.

Twice in the second half WVU stretched their lead out to seven points, but both times the Hokies responded to immediately get back into the game. WVU wtill held a two point lead with 4:07 to play, but scored only two baskets in the last 5:33 of the contest, as they suffered from the same scoring drought down the stretch as they did against Georgetown last Saturday.

Down by four with just 1:56 to go, WVU stayded in the game as Jerrah Young, who made another small step of improvement, hit a layup and Jarmon Durisseau-Collins tied the game at 67 with a driving hoop. Tech answered with a layup by Markus Sailes with just nine seconds remaining to break the tie, and WVU called their final timeout to set up their response.

Joe Herber drove the baseline and got off blanace, but managed to find Durisseau-Collins open on the wing as the clock ticked down. Durisseau-Collins' shot wouldn't fall, however, and the Mountaineers were unable to regain possession as the clock ran out.

Patrick Beilein led West Virginia with 16 points, with all but one coming on three-point shots. Tyrone Sally continued his improved play with 11 points and five rebounds, and included strong defensive play for the second straight game.

Beilein's points were offset by Tech's Zabian Dowdell, who hit five threes of his own on the way to a game high 20 points. Bryant Matthews had a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Markus Sailes, who has not been a scoring threat, shot a perfect 7-7 from the field to end with 14 points.

The loss was a critical blow to WVU's post-season aspirations. Although the conference season is just getting underway, this was a game that WVU had to win. The Mountaineers will somehow need to make up this contest by getting an upset somewhere down the road.

The Mountaineers will try to do just that on Saturday when they travel to Providence to face the Friars.

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