Collins' Hoop Gives WVU Win

West Virginia's 67-66 win over St. John's came about on a shot from the most unlikely candidate to take a game-winning attempt.

Mountaineer point guard J.D. Collins, not know for his scoring prowess, drove the length of the floor and hit a layup with 1.4 seconds remaining to give West Virginia an improbable 67-66 win over St. John's in Jamaica, N.Y. on Wednesday evening.

"Most of the time, I pass it, but Tyrone told me just before the play to take advantage of it, and I did," Collins said. "Coach told if no one picked me up to keep going, so I put it up and it went in.

"I thought it was already in, but when I looked back it was still rolling around, and I thought I would have a heart attack, but it went down," Collins joked.

Collins' layup came on a play called "1-2-3", which refers to the position options for shots as the set unfolds.

"We are looking for a one a two or a three on the play," head coach John Beilein explained. "We want to spread the floor and let J.D use his right hand, and he goes until someone stops him, and then looks to pass it. The picked him up, but he beat them all, and got leverage and got the ball in."

The wild finish was set up by another WVU scoring drought, which erased a fine Mountaineer start. WVU went out to a pair of early 14-point leads, but St. John's outscored WVU by ten to cut the lead to four at the half.

Things didn't get any better in the second half, as the Mountaineers tallied just 12 points in the opening 12 minutes of the period. St. John's meanwhile, scored 23 over the same stretch to open a five point lead at 58-53 with under eight minutes to play.

Key in the resurgence was flashy guard Daryll Hill, who tossed in some improbable shots in the face of WVU's man-to-man and 1-3-1 zones. West Virginia finally went to a diamond and one defense late in the game, which at least slowed the onslaught.

"We had to do something," Beilein said. "He was carving up the 1-3-1 and carving up the man."

Following the switch, WVU scored six consecutive points to retake the lead at 65-64, which set the stage for the final, frantic moments. Hill forced up another shot which missed, and the Mountaineers rebounded. Joe Herber, who was 4-5 from the line to that point, was fouled on a drive to the basket, but missed the front end of the resulting one and one.

That gave the Red Storm a final chance, and Hill capitalized, throwing in an arcing baseline floater while getting fouled. That was Hill's only meaningful production against the tenacious defense of Collins in the diamond and one. St. John's now led 66-65 with a free throw pending.

Following a timeout, Hill missed the free throw, which set the stage for Collins' dramatic layup.

For WVU, Kevin Pittnogle had 21 points and eight rebounds, but had problems defensively in the post. Center D'or Fischer again got two quick fouls and was a non-entity defensively, which is his forte.

"D'or is still struggling. He's always in foul trouble," Beilein noted.

Mike Gansey had 18 points and eight rebounds, part of an effort that limited St. John's to just four offensive rebounds. Tyrone Sally was the only other Mountaineer in double figures with 12 points.

WVU moves to 15-8, 5-7 in the league. St. John's falls to 8-14 and 2-10 in the conference.

"That's five road wins for us. To get that is huge," Beilein said. "Now we need to get all charged up to beat Seton Hall."

The Mountaineers host the Pirates on Sunday.


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