WVU Threes Drop Dukes, 77-48

Patrick Beilein scored 15 points – all from three-point range – and Kevin Pittsnogle added 11 as West Virginia rolled past James Madison 77-48 Saturday.

West Virginia (7-0) hit 11 threes, including five from Beilein and three from Pittsnogle, to bury JMU (2-5). The win is WVU's seventh straight. It is the first time the Mountaineers have won seven in a row since 1996-97.

The last three, by walk-on Duriel "Juice" Price, gave West Virginia 70 on the season, an average of 10 per game. No WVU team has ever averaged 10 per game in a season.

"We're only as good as we shoot," WVU head coach John Beilein said. Indeed. The Mountaineers ripped off a quick 9-2 lead, which included a three-pointer by J.D. Collins and a Mike Gansey dunk.

Then Beilein and Pittsnogle took over. With WVU ahead 14-4, a Pittsnogle tip-in was followed by three straight WVU threes. Beilein hit the first, while Pittsnogle made the final two on the way to 10 first-half points. The 16-0 run put WVU up 25-4. It was never threatened again.

"It is really hard to stop us when we are on fire," Pittsnogle said. "Open shots with us are going down. A couple times we had fast breaks and looked for three. That's how we get points. Anywhere inside halfcourt we will take it. If the first one goes down it is likely that we will be hot for the whole game."

They were. Combining solid shooting and better defense, West Virginia held JMU without a field goal for 9:36 seconds. Beilein had made another three by then, and later added one more three to bring WVU's total to seven in the first 20 minutes.

The Mountaineers led 47-17 at the half. It is West Virginia's largest half-time cushion since a 49-16 lead over Western Carolina in 2002-03.

"I was really feeling it tonight," Beilein said. "It was another one of those games. I mean, I can't even remember my last two point jumpshot."

In fact, he has just three two-pointers in 26 made shots this year and is the major reason WVU is currently third in the NCAA in three-point field goals per game.

Beilein's most impressive three came with 8:10 left to give WVU a 61-30 edge. It came a possession after the junior passed up another NBA-range three from the opposite side of the floor near the students.

"I heard the students moan and I thought ‘OK, I'll get you one from deep. I'll let one fly.' So I did. I felt confident when I shot it. I would let it fly even (against UConn or Georgetown). That is how I play the game."

Beilein finished five-of-seven from three-point range and never took a two-point shot.

"I heard the students' moan," Pittsnogle said. "When he caught the ball, we thought he was going to shoot it. When he gets it, it is shoot first and pass later. He takes some shots that would be crazy for some people. He has no conscience when shooting."

Beilein and Pittsnogle combined for eight of West Virginia's 11 threes. It is the fifth-time this season that WVU has made 10 or more threes in a game.

"They can really hit," WVU forward Mike Gansey said. "For Pat, that kind of three is a good shot. Sometimes he is so far out teams don't think he will shoot it. With Kevin or Pat, if they get hot it is hard to stop them."

James Madison never did, and it led to the Dukes' worst loss of the season. JMU has lost five in a row and still has never defeated West Virginia on its home floor.

WVU's 1-3-1 defense caused eleven deflections, leading to 16 points. It had only four clean steals in comparison in forcing16 turnovers which led to 15 points.

JMU did not have consecutive baskets until the 15:15 mark of the second half. By then WVU led by 30, 53-23.

"It seems like our 1-3-1 completely bothered them," Gansey said. "We just kept after them again and again. We broke up everything and they never got comfortable. We steamrolled them."

The biggest Mountaineer lead of the game was 52-17 on D'or Fischer's lay-in and resulting free throw. Fischer finished with 11 points, as did Jo Herber. David Cooper led James Madison with 10 points.

"I have been around college basketball for 20 years," JMU head coach Dean Keener said. "Tonight's performance was as bad as I have ever been associated with. But I like WVU's team. They have just enough depth, they have shooters and shot blockers. If they shoot well and maintain chemistry, they have a chance to be awfully good."

James Madison played without leading scorer Daniel Freeman. He suffered a stress fracture against Hofstra Dec. 4. The Dukes have lost five straight.

West Virginia remains unbeaten (11-0) under Beilein at home in December. It is 7-3 all-time against JMU, 6-0 at home.

WVU is 7-0 for the first time since 1982-83. That season, the Mountaineers lost to JMU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

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