Patrick Beilein's timely three-pointers were the only thing that kept West Virginia in the game in the opening half of the 60-58 loss to Syracuse.
Coming off the bench in place of the wildly ineffective Frank Young, Beilein hit five threes in the first half, including one with less than two seconds to go to give the Mountaineers their first and only lead of the opening stanza. With Syracuse's 2-3 zone stifling West Virginia's standard cutting and screening attack, Beilein's long range shots were West Virginia's only weapon.
For the game, the senior hit 6-12 from beyond the arc, and added two assists and two rebounds to his total of 18 points. Beilein's final three gave West Virginia its last lead of the game at 51-49, and while he only had one trey in the second half, his presence allowed Kevin Pittsnogle more openings than he had in the first half, which he capitalized on for 13 second half points.
For West Virginia, Syracuse's 2-3 zone looked like ancient Sanskrit to a bunch of third-graders. The Mountaineers struggled to get any sort of inside game going against the Orange's signature defense. WVU scored just three two-point field goals in the first half, with one of those coming in transition.
Despite the fact that Syracuse's front line shoots free throws with all the delicacy of a stonemason, WVU chose not to challenge the Orange frontcourt by fouling when they got the ball close to the basket. Instead, the Mountaineers chose to watch while Terrence Watkins and Darryl Watkins dunked and shot as if they were in pregame warmup lines. The pair finished with a combined 26 points, yet went to the foul line just one time each.
The Mountaineers did do a good job in forcing Gerry McNamara to keep the ball on drives and cut down on his excellent passing around the basket. McNamara finished with just five points on 2-11 shooting.