Marquette Midased

West Virginia is said to be a streaky as its shooting. That has proven prophetic of late.

The No. 16 Mountaineers (12-3, 4-0 Big East) finally found the fast start they had lacked in previous Big East wins, hitting six 3-pointers in their first seven baskets and a school and Big East record 20 overall as it beat Marquette 104-85 Saturday.

West Virginia's fourth straight Big East win comes on the heels of consecutive comeback wins against Villanova and Georgetown, where WVU had to rally from double-digits deficits.

"The pace was incredible," WVU head coach John Beilein said. "Do you turn off the tempo? You just have to let the kids go. They got in that zone."

Beilein told his team it couldn't possibly maintain the 12 for 25 3-point shooting it had at halftime. He was wrong. WVU actually improved to finish 20 of 38 from behind the arc for its best percentage (61.5) of the season.

"That's a rule we want kids to follow," Beilein said. "If they are feeling it, shoot it."

Gansey did in scoring a career-high 33 points in leading the Mountaineers to their 10th straight win, equaling their longest win streak since 1988-89, when they won 22 consecutive games. WVU is 4-0 in the Big East for the first time.

Kevin Pittsnogle added 30, marking the first time since Feb. 17, 1967 that WVU has had two 30-plus point scorers in one game. Dave Reaser (42) and Carl Head (33) combined for the mark against Richmond.

It was the second 100-point game under fourth-year coach John Beilein and the first in regulation. WVU scored 111 against Wake Forest in a triple overtime NCAA Tournament game last year. It was the first 100-point Big Rest game since a 107-100 overtime home win over Villanova on Feb. 20, 2001.

WVU's 20 3-pointers eclipsed the then-record 18 set last year against Louisville in an overtime NCAA Tournament game. The NCAA record is 28, by Troy in 1994.

"I can't say I've seen many better performances than what we saw from West Virginia," Marquette coach Tom Crean said. "We have tremendous respect for the way they play. This is a special college basketball team, very special."

Gansey hit eight 3-pointers, also a career-high. It tied a school single game record set by Chris Leonard against Marshall in 1992.

Gansey hit six 3s in the first half, including five by the 11:45 mark as West Virginia claimed its largest lead of the first period at 27-15. It never trailed and led by as many as 22 on reserve Joe Alexander's free throw with 1:30 remaining.

Marquette (12-5, 2-2) was led by Dominic James' career-high 28 points. The freshman has scored 22 or more points in three games this season. Joe Chapman added 18.

"He told me to quit making my shots," Gansey said of James. "I looked at him and said, ‘Man, what about you?' He is possibly the best freshman in the league."

Crean said the same of Gansey's senior status.

"Anybody who has the opportunity to take him at the next level would be absolutely ridiculous not to," he said. "He makes everyone better. John (Beilein) and the people of Morgantown are probably the presidents of the fan club, but I'm a charter member."

Marquette closed a 45-34 WVU lead to 45-43 with 46 seconds left before Gansey hit his sixth 3-pointer of the period for a 48-43 halftime lead. It tied for West Virginia's highest first half scoring of the year.

Marquette lost when scoring at least 85 points for the first time since a 92-85 overtime defeat at Dayton in 2002-03. The Golden Eagles went to the Final Four that season. Coming in, Marquette had held its last seven foes below their season scoring average.

It hit 20 of 38 3-pointers, its best percentage (61.5) of the season. Both teams shot better than 54 percent from the field to fuel record-pace scoring.

West Virginia extended a 56-51 lead to 73-56 with 11:39 left with a 17-5 run over five minutes and was never threatened again. Pittsnogle scored nine points in the push. Gansey had five.

West Virginia forced 21 turnovers while committing just five. It had 25 assists. WVU leads the Big East in assists, turnovers, and assisit-to-tunover margin and is second in the nation with just 9.3 turnovers per game.

"They live by the three, die by the three," James said. "They were hitting the three and we definitely got killed by the three."

James and Gansey dominated play for much of the game. Gansey scored 17 of WVU's first 27 points and James had his career-high in points with 18:43 left. The 5-10 guard also dunked off an alley-oop on an in-bounds play with 8:42 left.

Gansey injured his right ankle with 7:32 left in the second half and WVU ahead 83-73. He went to the locker room, then returned at the 6:18 mark.

WVU held Steve Novak, the Big East's leading 3-point shooter at 5.33 per game, to six points.

Largely ignored in the game was a series of plays on both sides of the ball. The first was a great defensive play by Jo Herber at the 9:30 mark of the second half. Gansey had the ball stolen. Herber ran downcourt and beat James to the spot under the hoop. Staying vertical, the senior drew enough contact to change James' shot, which hits hard off the backboard care of Gansey and ends up back with WVU. It was an absolutely fantastic hustle play.

Herber had five assists and no turnovers in first half and finished with an 8-0 ratio.

The second sequence was when Pittsnogle was defended in the corner and passed out to Gansey, who threw to Collins. The point guard whipped a pass to Herber, who looked as though he would shoot before tossing the ball to Frank Young.

The junior drained a 3-pointer from the right corner. The entire team touched the ball within five seconds and all were unselfish to the point where one wondered when the ball would be shot. Simply fantastic offense.

Young finished with a much-overlooked 11 points.

WVU leads the NCAA in fewest fouls per game and is second in fewest turnovers per game and 3-pointers per game. It has had fewer turnovers than its foe in all but one game this year.

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