Effort Not Enough for Game Mountaineers

Tyrone Sally dropped in 17 points to lead West Virginia, but a strong Mountaineer rally fell short against #4 Pitt in front of 14,665 fans at the West Virginia Coliseum.

WVU cut a 14 point Panther second half lead down to three points, but could never get any closer as Pitt held on for a 67-58 win in front of the ninth-largest crowd in Coliseum history.

Pitt (24-2, 10-2) started out strong on two quick buckets by starting center Chris Taft to take a 4-0 lead. Joe Herber came back down the floor for WVU (14-9, 6-6) to hit a lay-up to cut the lead to 4-2 before Taft hit another bucket to give Pitt a 6-2 lead. Taft's run, however, was short lived as he picked up his second foul on the next trip down floor, hacking D'or Fisher on a bucket with 17:29 left in the first half. Fisher dropped in the freebee to cut Pitt's lead to 6-5.

Both teams battled back and forth for the next nine minutes until the Mountaineers mounted their first big charge of the game. Trailing 21-18 with 8:41 to go in the half, Joe Herber banked in a three pointer to tie the ball game and spur a 7-0 run that gave WVU their largest lead of the contest at 25-21.

Pitt came right back with five straight of their own before Jarmon Durisseau-Collins hit a three-pointer to give WVU the lead right back at 28-26. It would be the last lead for the Mountaineers. Pitt mounted a 10-0 run of their own to take a 36-28 lead, which proved to be the difference in the game. The Mountaineers went 5:40 without a point as the Panthers closed out the half in strong fashion. Joe Herber stopped the drought with two free throws but Julius Page dropped in a jumper to extend the lead back to eight. WVU missed the final shot of the half, leaving the score at 38-30.

The Panthers started the second half strongly as well. A free throw by Chevon Troutman (15 points, 7 rebounds) and a three-pointer by Jaron Brown extended Pitt's lead to 42-30.

Kevin Pittsnogle stepped up and hit his only bucket of the game to cut the lead back to nine at 42-33 and Sally dropped in two free throws on a small 5-0 run that got the large crowd back to their feet.

Pitt, however, was not intimidated and stretched their lead to 14 twice over the next four minutes, the last being 51-38 with 11:28 to go in the game.

West Virginia then began to slowly chip away at the Panther lead. Sally hit a three to cut the lead back to ten at 51-41. Then after a bucket by backup Pitt center Mark McCarroll, Tyler Relph drained a 24 foot three-pointer to cut the lead to nine at 53-44.

Chris Taft (10 points, six rebounds) dropped in another bucket for the Panthers, but D'or Fisher responded with a layup with 9:02 to play to kepp the Mountaineers withing striking distance.

The Panthers turned the ball over on their next possession and after several missed shots, and offensive rebounds, Pat Belein hit his second three of the game to cut the lead to six at 55-49 with 8:05 to play.

Pitt jumped back out to an eight point lead with 4:33 to go after two free throws by Carl Krauser (13 points, nine rebounds, seven assists) before the Mountaineers mounted one last charge.

Tyrone Sally drove the lane for a layup and was fouled, He hit the ensuing foul shot to cut the lead back to 59-54 with 3:50 to play. After Taft turned the ball over on Pitt's next possession and Tyler Relph hit a runner in the lane, the Mountaineers were down three points with 2:54 to go and the home crowd was rocking.

The Mountaineers would only score two more points, however, as their shooting touch went cold, and the Panthers closed out the second half just as they did the first, with a 8-2 run that made the final score 67-58. West Virginia missed several chances to cut the lead to three or even two points, and were unable to connect on at tleast three open three point shots.

Joe Herber finished with seven points, 14 rebounds (10 offensive), three assists and three steals for the Mountaineers. Relph added nine points and Pat Belein added eight points for WVU.

Julius Page threw in 15 points for a balanced Pitt squad that placed four players in double figures.

West Virginia's next game is on the road against Rutgers, who is 13-1 at home this season. It looms as a critical contest for the Mountaineers, who still have an outside shot at an NCAA bid, and is fighting for a good position int he Big East conference tournament.

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