It was also an indicator that West Virginia (18-6, 9-2) might be fading a bit in the latter portion of its 29-game schedule. The Mountaineers uncharacteristically missed several 3-pointers short and made just eight of 31 (25.8 percent), including a stretch when it made zero in 16 minutes of play.
"We could not make shots. If you don't make shots, you lose," WVU head coach John Beilein said. "We will get a little rest and see what we can do against Connecticut."
It was also a failed first of three times WVU will play two games in three days in their final seven games. The Mountaineers play Connecticut-Syracuse and Louisville-Pitt in three-day stretches, though three of the four games are at home.
Kevin Pittsnogle backed a 25-point game at No. 17 Georgetown with a game-high 24-point performance on 10 of 17 shooting – including four of WVU's eight 3-pointers – and Mike Gansey added 14 points and nine rebounds to lead WVU. Jo Herber, who made his 119th career start to break Chris Brooks' mark set from 1988-91, added 10 points and five rebounds.
"Gansey played his tail off," Beilein said. "He just couldn't make shots. There are nights like that."
WVU fatally compounded its inability to shoot with a lack of turnovers. It forced just seven and committed the same number themselves, just the second time West Virginia has had equal or more turnovers than its foe this season (Canisius, 11-10). The Mountaineers, the second-worst field goal percentage defense in the Big East at 43.9 percent, also allowed SHU to shoot six percent better than their conference-low 41.7 percent effort from the floor and were outshot 20-13 at the free throw line.
West Virginia was outscored by just one point after halftime, but never got closer than six points in the second half after Seton Hall scored the first seven points of the last period to take a game-high 13-point lead, 47-34, with 15 minutes left.
The Mountaineers rallied to within 50-43 on a 9-2 run spurred by a Pittsnogle lay-in and 3-pointer and Gansey's two inside points. Seton Hall again extended the lead to 13, 47-34, then played a single-digit game after WVU got within 50-43 on a 3-pointer until Brian Laing's 3-pointer with six minutes left made it 61-51 at the six-minute mark.
WVU scored four straight points to again get within six before 6-10 center Grant Billmeier sealed the game with a surprise jump shot from the corner to make it 63-55 with one minute remaining. The Pirates, despite a 9-8 deficit against the Mountaineers, have now outscored teams 43-15 in the last two minutes of regulation in six league wins.
Seton Hall was led by Kelly Whitney's 21 points and 12 rebounds. Laing, who shot just 38 percent from the field and 27 percent from 3-point range entering, hit eight of 11 shots to score a career-high 19 points. Billmeier, who averaged four points, scored 10 on four of four shooting.
West Virginia was outscored 32-12 in the paint in the first half and gave up 44 total points there. It again had to abandon the 1-3-1 zone as the Pirates trumped WVU 14-7 in the last 6:30 of the first half to take a 37-31 lead at the break. The teams changed leads 10 times and were tied on eight occasions before the late Pirate push.
The Mountaineers then switched from the 1-3-1 to a man, switching every screen, and 2-3 zone, among other combinations as it tried to find something to slow Seton Hall. Nothing worked inside, and SHU hit three alley-oops to further hinder the comeback. It won despite making just two 3-pointers, 3.7 off its already-paltry season average.
"We got one of the three, and you hate to do that, but we played three teams with an RPI ranking in the top 30," Beilein said. "So we'll take the one of three and see what happens at home."
Neither team scored more than four consecutive points until Seton Hall hit six straight from 6:30 until the 5-minute mark for a 29-24 lead. The Pirates' biggest first half lead would come on Whitney's inside bucket to make it 33-26 with 3:53 remaining before the half.
SHU hit 10 of 12 shots before the final minute of the half. Gansey missed two of three free throws, committed a turnover that led to a basket and missed a layup and a tap-in just before the break as WVU trailed 37-31. It hit three 3-pointers in the first eight minutes, then none in the final 12 to go three of 14 (21.4 percent from behind the arc. The Pirates missed all eight 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes.
It was the fourth consecutive time Seton Hall has beaten WVU at home. The Mountaineers have not won there since an 82-71 victory in 2000-01. Villanova, with just one conference loss, is now in first place in the Big East. WVU and Connecticut, which beat SHU by 42 on Feb. 11 – the worst Big East loss in league history – have two conference losses.
The Pirates have won six of the last eight games between the teams and holds an 11-9 lead in the all-time series.