WVU Takes Shine Off Flashes

West Virginia employed some tenacious defense and timely three-point shooting to defeat Kent State on their home floor Wednesday evening.

The Mountaineers held Kent to just 32% shooting for the game, including a frigid 14.8% from three-point range, as they won their first postseason game since 1998.

WVU was led by Tyrone Sally, who combined his usual slashing drives to the hoop with some solid outside shooting for 17 big points. Patrick Beilein added 14 markers, tallying two twisting, running jumpers in addition to three three pointers, and D'or Fischer tossed in 12, mainly on the strength of an 8-8 performance from the line.

Kent State jumped out to an early 8-0 lead as WVU couldn't find the basket, and the Mountaineers didn't get on the board until Patrick Beilein hit a three at the 15:54 mark. From there, however, WVU slowly climbed back into the game, and took the lead for good at 11-10 on another Beilein bomb.

Although the Mountaineers never trailed again, the home team kept it close until the final minutes. Depsite their poor shooting night, the Golden Flashes countered with solid defense of their own, forcing WVU into some poor possessions throughout the game. However, every time Kent made it close, John Beilein's troops had an answer.

Kent's main run came in the second half, when they cut a 12 point WVU lead down to three at 46-43 with 8:26 to go. In addition to a few smooth offensive possessions, the Golden Flashes were aided by several missed three-point attempts on the part of the Gold and Blue.

At that point, however, WVU switched tactics.

"Coach told us to get more aggressive and take the ball to the basket," Joe Herber said of the Mountaineer turnaround, which was sparked by Patrick Beilein and Herber himself. "We knwe we needed to get some good shots."

That they did, as Beilein drove into the lane and hit a twisting jumper. Following a Kent State miss, Herber then drove the lane and hit a stop and go layup to return WVU's margin to seven. Although Kent State was able to get within five points on at least three more occasions, WVU was never in jeopardy, and pushed their margin out to the final gap of 11 on the strength of solid free throw shooting down the stretch.

The Mountaineers also received a great boost from their bench, especially in the first half when several starters, including Jarmon Durisseau-Collins, Herber and D'or Fischer were saddled with foul problems. Tyler Relph hit a big three pointer, and had an assist and a steal in nine minutes of strong action, while Frank Young had two big baskets which were good for five points.

West Virginia forced twenty Golden Flash turnovers in the contest, and came up with 14 steals.

West Virginia's next opponent will be Rhode Island, but the location of that game won't be known until an 11:30 p.m. conference call is held among NIT officials. WVU does appear to have a bit more hope for a home game than they did two days ago.

WVU is now 16-13 on the season, while Kent State ends their campaign at 22-9.

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