Dukes Caned

If you were looking for an exhibition to teach your children the game of basketball, West Virginia's performance this Friday was not the game to show.

The Mountaineers knocked down just nine shots from inside the three-point stripe, were out-rebounded 36-25 and were dominated in the paint with Duquesne scoring 34 points to West Virginia's 12.

But Mountaineer head coach John Beilein will take the result, a 72-69 win. Despite the less-than-amusing performance, West Virginia was able to win its second straight contest against the Dukes, a team that had won four of the last six meetings between the two schools.

"We knew this was going to be a close game coming in," said Beilein. "This team always seems to play us tough. It was just good for us to learn how to win on the road and play in a hostile environment. I thought we really held our poise, and to go on the road and only have 11 turnovers was great."

West Virginia's saving grace was the three-point shot. While the Mountaineers' inside performance matched only the rebounding efforts of the Duquesne ball-boys under the basket, their outside shooting looked more like an NBA three-point contest.

WVU tied a school record, knocking down 14 long-balls, five of those coming from the hands of Patrick Beilein. In all, the Mountaineers attempted 35 shots from behind the arc, but not too many according to Beilein.

"There are certain guys that we don't want to shoot that many, but if they are giving them to us we have to take them," explained a relieved West Virginia head coach. "Thirty-five is probably about as far as it goes for us, but the way they were doubling down in the paint, it was what we had to do."

But despite the sharp-shooting exhibition, West Virginia was never able to open up a significant lead. The Mountaineers never led by more than seven, and Duquesne actually held a lead with 4:11 left on the clock.

West Virginia, though, finally found its inside game down the stretch to pull off the win. After J.D. Collins gave the Mountaineers the lead back by joining the three-point party, Kevin Pittsnogle went to his hook shot and Jo Herber found a pull-up jumper. Those two inside shots finally sealed the deal for the Blue and Gold, as it became a foul shooting contest down the stretch.

Two missed Patrick Beilein foul shots gave the Dukes one final shot, as they took over control of the ball down three-points with 16-ticks left on the scoreboard. Duquesne head coach Danny Nee took a time-out with eight-seconds remaining to set up his final play.

There was little question who would get the ball. Bryant McAllister had already poured in 16 points, and he had shown no fear taking the ball to the hoop. Even with two defenders blanketing him, the junior guard pulled up for the game winner. The shot clanged off the rim but somehow managed to clip a Mountaineer before rolling out of bounds. With just two-seconds left it would take a miracle for the Dukes to force overtime.

That miracle nearly became a reality. West Virginia inexplicably left Tyler Bluemling wide open in the right corner. The Duquesne guard, however, found nothing but the rim for the fourth time from behind the arc, and West Virginia escaped with a much-appreciated win.

Beilein led the scoring effort for the Mountaineers with 16 points on the strength of his five threes, while Tyrone Sally had perhaps the best all-around effort with 15 points, four rebounds, three assists and three blocks. Kevin Pittsnogle picked up some of the slack from the lack of inside production by knocking down two from three-point range to finish with 14 points. Herber also reached double-digits with 10.

The Mountaineers (2-0) will be back on the road this Saturday at LSU.

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