The difference in the numbers was staggering. West Virginia outscored Georgetown 40-19 in the second half (with five of those Hoya points coming in the last minute), and smothered their shooters throughout. After hitting 59% of their first half tries, the Hoyas were successful on just 24% of their shots in the second half.
"The first half was one of the most impressive offense performances against us," head coach John Beilein said after yet another road win against a Top 25 team. "They were terrific against the 1-3-1. It worked well at our place, but here they were exceptional. So, we didn't play a lick of it (1-3-1) in the second half."
Georgetown's success in the opening half was powered by a mid-period 20-3 run that turned a 20-13 Mountaineer lead into a 33-22 Georgetown bulge. Included in the spurt were back-to-back uncontested dunks off uncharacteristic WVU turnovers which had the home crowd roaring.
"During the span they had run, we had five or six pretty good shots that we just didn't make, and then they converted on the other end," Beilein said.
WVU, showing discipline, managed to shake off the bad stretch and cut the deficit to eight at the half on the strength of a J.D. Collins layup with just a handful of seconds to go, which was an indicator of things to come. The Mountaineers opened the second half with a 10-0 run that gave them the lead a 39-37, and although Georgetown was able to reclaim the lead on two more occasions, it was only a matter of time before WVU's shifting strategy again made the difference.
Rather than settling for three-pointers early in the possession, WVU repeated attacked the lane on drives, and were usually rewarded for the effort. Mike Gansey, Joe Herber and Darris Nichols all scored and drives, and when Georgetown finally began helping against those forays, Kevin Pittsnogle took over. The big center, who usually drives daggers with long range threes, scored eight of WVU's 12 points as it turned a 52-47 lead into a 62-51 bulge with just over one minute to play.
"In the second half we drove the ball very well," Beilein acknowledged. "We have been trying to do that more. We took their big man out of the game, because he had some trouble guarding us."
Coming off the difficult loss at Pitt, this win was a breath of fresh air as well as a reminder that the Mountaineers are still an excellent team.
"It was a great road win for us," Beilein said. "Winning this one is huge. We will rest tomorrow and see what we can do on Tuesday [at Seton Hall].
WVU, now 9-1 in the league and 18-5 overall, will remain in Washington, D.C. tonight before bussing to New Jersey tomorrow. The Mountaineers face Seton Hall on Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m.