West Virginia saw any chances of an NCAA bid go swirling away with a horrendous 74-53 loss to Rutgers on Wednesday.

If, as WVU head coach John Beilein says, that there are things to learn from a loss, then the Mountaineers are likely to earn Mensa membership after looking at the tape of their blowout loss to the Scarlet Knights. Other than the first few minutes of the game, West Virginia, was outworked, outhustled, outshot and outexecuted as they fell to 6-7 in league play and 14-10 overall.

It was a true team effort, and it can't all be blamed on Rutgers' home court dominance or the diffculty of playing on the road. From the perimeter, West Virginia fired up 15 threes, and only a late flurry of hits by Patrick Beilein gave the Mountaineers a respectable 33.3% shooting mark from beyond the arc.

If that wasn't bad enough, the inside game was even worse. Weak West Virginia drives to the basket were routinely rejected or snuffed by smaller Rutgers defenders, as the Mountaineers played with about as much aggressiveness as Walter Mitty. WVU players stood and watched as Rutgers grabbed loose balls, drove to the basket and generally dominated play for the last 35 minutes.

Defensively, West Virginia had their worst performance since the Providence loss, which this game strongly resembled. The Mountaineers yielded an embarrassing nive points to Sean Axani, who has about as much in common with offense as Anna Kournikova does with winning a tennis tournament. Faced with one hot shooter (junior Ricky Shields), WVU apparently felt that if they would leave him alone long enough, eventually he would miss a shot. Finally, that strategy worked, but only after Shields (a career-best 24 points on 10-18 shooting) had powered the Scarlet Knights (16-9, 7-7) to a double-digit lead.

Only a hot second half saved the Mountaineers from the ignominy of a second straight sub-40% shooting night, but when the game was being contested WVU was well below that mark. West Virginia did manage to improve to 43% shooting for the game, but Rutgers bettered that by hitting 47% of their shots as they destroyed WVU's listless defensive effort.

D'or Fischer added 14 points to Beilein's 16, but many of those points came after the game was decided as well. Tyrone Sally and Joe Herber each grabbed six rebounds to pace WVU. The Mountaineers were hampered by 16 turnovers, and their lack of aggressiveness was underscored by the fact that they only shot two free throws on the evening.

The Scarlet Knights started badly, and the Mountaineers even managed a five point lead at 14-9 in the early going. From that point, on, however, it was the home team in a breeze. The home team ouscored WVU 25-7 to take a a 13-point halftime lead, and widened that gap to as many as 30 points before the Mountaineers hit a few late shots to close the gap.

Althugh this crushing loss likely ended West Virginia's NCAA hopes, there is still tournament seeding and an NIT bid to play for. Another of Beilein's dictums, that of moving on and cointinuing to work, will be put to the test as the Mountaineers have a quick turnaround before facing Virginia Tech on the road on Saturday.

BlueGoldNews Top Stories