Still Dancing

It may not be the senior prom, but the Mountaineers are still enjoying every step and every spin, as the dancing has continued, well after the midnight hour.

Less than three weeks ago it appeared as though WVU's season was about to come to a close. The Blue & Gold had just suffered a frustrating loss to Syracuse, and they were in the midst of a downhill slide that saw them drop four straight contests. The season record was now 14-12 and a win on the road in Miami was now almost a must if they hoped for any postseason play. The future of the 2003-04 season looked about as bright as a New York City blackout, but 17 days later, WVU is still playing, and playing like a team on a mission.

The latest notch in the Mountaineers' belt was a 79-72 win over former Atlantic 10 rival Rhode Island in front of a crowd of 6,791 West Virginia fans that found their way into the Coliseum, despite the late notice, to catch a glimpse of the Mountaineers' second game in the NIT Tournament. It was a magical night from start to finish, and one that Beilein and staff promise was only a glimpse of the future.

Winning did not come easy for WVU, and it never does. Despite holding a 21-point lead with just under nine minutes to play, the Blue & Gold ended up in a dog fight, as the invaders from New England pulled to within five in the closing minutes. But this Friday night belonged to the Mountaineers and nobody, not even a lightning quick RIU forward was going to take it away, as Beilein's Boys refused to be denied and escaped with a 79-72 triumph.

The reasons for the late season run are about as big of a mystery as the color of a polar bear. West Virginia's shooting in late February could have kept a package of ham from spoiling for over a month, but in the last two contests, the shooting could have roasted a marshmallow. The Mountaineers torched the nets, shooting 56 percent from behind the arc against the Rams, including a six-for-eight mark in the second half. The hot shooting, combined with aggressive defense, has given this WVU team a new look, and allowed the final song of the season to last just a little longer.

Nearly every Mountaineer took his shot at the Rams. Tyrone Sally, Kevin Pittsnogle, Patrick Beilein and D'or Fischer all found double figures on the evening, as West Virginia managed one of its highest totals of the year, tallying 79 points on the evening. On the defensive end, Fischer ended any hopes of a Rhode Island comeback with a WVU single-game record nine blocked shots, while equaling that total on the boards.

Now it is on to Piscataway for the streaking Mountaineers, as the face conference foe Rutgers Monday night. The upstart squad has earned an opportunity to avenge one of the most embarrassing games of the season, a lopsided loss to Rutgers. It will not be an easy task to win at The RAC, but it is one the WVU is fully ready to accept. Who knows, there could be at least one more number left left in the jukebox.

BlueGoldNews Top Stories