In front of the original Mr. Clutch, Jerry West, WVU's Mike Gansey displayed his own brand of big plays at crunch time in WVU's 60-56 win over UCLA.
Gansey scored 24 points on 7-8 shooting from the field, but his biggest play came on defense. With UCLA
trailing 59-56, the Bruins inbounded the ball in the backcourt with seven seconds to go. Gansey, pressuring the ball, stripped Jordan Farmar
cleanly for his fourth steal of the game, then wrapped up the huge road win with a free throw with 2.6 seconds remaining.
The monster defensive play capped an awesome afternoon for Gansey, who is beginning to get All-America mention. The springing senior made all three of his three-point attempts as well as 7-9 from the free throw line, and scored 11 of WVU's meager 21 points in the second half.
The biggest hoop of Gansey's day came as the shot clock was winding down on a late WVU possession after UCLA had cut the lead to four. Gansey retrieved the ball some thirty feet from the hoop and let fly with a rainbow that drew nothing but net and put the Mountaineers in front by seven. That shot was the only WVU field goal in the final 13 minutes of the contest, but proved to be just enough to keep West Virginia in front.
Gansey added four steals and two assists.
Patrick Beilein had the hustle play of the contest when he dove through the legs of a Bruin for a loose ball and batted it to Gansey for a fast break layup. Throw in several strips of UCLA foes in the lane, and Beilein was likely WVU's most valuable defender on the day.
With J.D. Collins saddled with foul trouble, sophomore Darris Nichols ran the team effective for much of his time on the floor. Nichols scored four points and did attack the basket a bit more during the first half. That facet of his game, however, must continue to improve.
The game was something of a reverasl of many WVU road games this year. The Mountaineers have typically gotten off to slow starts, then run their offense to perfection in the second half to rally for the win. This time, WVU pushed out to a twenty-point lead but had to hold on for the win.