Mountaineers Send Panthers to the Pitts

John Beilein said Friday afternoon that he wanted to send the sold out Coliseum crowd home happy on Satruday night. When it was all said and done, Beilein got his wish as the Mountaineers overcame a poor first half to defeat arch rival Pitt in overtime, 83-78.

The writing was on the wall for a Pitt blowout, particularly after the first half of play. The Mountaineers were without starting center D'Or Fischer, who was sidelined with an upper respiratory infection shot 2-17 from behind the three point land in the first half while going into the locker room with a seven point deficit, trailing 30-23.

It would have been easy to phone it in down seven, and shooting so poorly yet again. Instead of sulking though, the Mountaineers picked themselves up off the canvas and came away with their biggest Big East win in a couple of years.

"I'm so proud of this team, especially the way we won in overtime," said Beilein following the game. "That shows a lot of resiliency to come back and beat them."

Several performances highlighted the Mountaineer victory.

Junior center Kevin Pittsnogle, making his second start of the season for Fischer, had his best game of the season, and arguably the best game of his career. The Martinsburg Marksman was 10-17 from the field, including 4-9 from three point range, en route to a game-high 27 points. Equally as impressive was his rebounding. Kevin battled Pitt big men Chevon Troutman and Chris Taft on the boards all night, and came down with eight rebounds. His eight points in overtime were also key to the victory.

Senior forward Tyrone Sally finally came away with a win over the Panthers. Sally finished the game with 19 points, four rebounds, and three assists in 41 minutes of action. Maybe the play of the night was when Joe Herber looked deep for Sally, who caught the ball and threw a perfect bounce pass to Mike Gansey for a three all the while he was hanging in the air.

Gansey's performance was a microcosm of the team's play overall. The junior from Olmstead Falls, Ohio was held to just two points in the first half on 0-5 shooting. Several of those shots were no where close to going in. But the scrappy Gansey persevered, and hit some big shots down the stretch to finish with 11 points, six rebounds, and five assists.

Patrick Beilein was the final Mountaineer in double figures with 14 points off the bench.

The Mountaineers took care of the ball about as well as you can, turning it over just four times. There were 22 assists on 26 West Virginia baskets. For the game, the home team was 18-20 from the foul line, including a clutch performance in overtime when they nailed 11-13. This was especially huge considering the Mountaineers were held without a field goal in the final 2:08 of overtime.

With the win the Mountaineers now stand at 13-7 overall, and improved their Big East record to 3-6. Up next is Providence, who is winless in Big East play so far.

For tonight though, we'll enjoy the win over the nationally ranked arch-rival from the north. And because of the win, Mountaineer fans everywhere are smiling, just like the coach wanted.

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