Exhibition Excommunication

Kevin Pittsnogle and Mike Gansey each scored 17 points to lead West Virginia to a 91-44 home exhibition win over Wheeling Jesuit on Monday.

Gansey started the half hot, hitting six of WVU's first 11 points. Pittsnogle scored 13 in the first half, including West Virginia's last eight to give the Mountaineers a 42-23 lead at the break.

That didn't quiet the surprisingly raucous Cardinal crowd, which battled the vaunted WVU student section with creative phrases such as "Jesus Loves Us" and "Marshall Beat You," among other unprintables.

The Mountaineers continued to build their lead throughout the game. WVU's largest edge came on the next to last possession, when walk-on Ted Talkington hit a three to put WVU ahead 91-41. It was Talkington's only shot of the contest.

WVU held Division II Wheeling Jesuit without a field goal for 8:35 in the first half and had a 23-2 first-half run to lead 32-9 with six minutes remaining.

Every WVU player saw action, with newcomers Joe Alexander and Alex Ruoff each playing at least 10 minutes. The former created the highlight of the game, faking left and driving three steps from the arc before elevating for a one-handed dunk that drew a foul. The 6-8 freshman completed the three-point play.

Frank Young added 14 points for WVU, which shot 47.3 percent from the field. It forced WJU into a six-to-20 assist-to-turnover ratio while gaining a 19-8 edge of its own.

Darris Nichols led WVU with eight rebounds and four assists and scored eight points, including six on two-of-three shooting from three-point range.

West Virginia's smothering 1-3-1 outclassed the overmatched Cardinals and forced a pair of shot clock violations. Jesuit never found itself defensively and struggled throughout. It was led by Rick Yahn's 12 points. Matt Plunkett added 11.

Parkersburg Catholic grad Rusty Wooten scored four points for WJU.

Just before the half, Patrick Beilein ran down a long pass and assisted Pittsnogle on a dunk at the buzzer. The senior guard sliced his knee on the edge of the basket support padding and did not play the remainder of the game. He has stitches but is expected to return quickly.

The Associated Press' preseason No. 14 ranking is West Virginia's highest since the 1960s.

The intrastate game was scheduled through WVU head coach John Beilein. Beilein played at then-NAIA Wheeling-Jesuit from 1971-75 and was its commencement speaker in May. The teams last met in a freshmen game in 1956.

The Mountaineers open the regular season Nov. 12 at home against Louisiana Monroe in the first round of the Guardians Classic. If it wins, it plays the winner of Wofford versus Fairleigh Dickenson for a trip to the semifinals in Kansas City.

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