Despite battling stomach and leg cramps, Mike Gansey showed much of his hell-bent-for-leather style in West Virginia's 67-54 win over Northwestern State.
Gansey helped the Mountaineers get out to an early lead with excellent play on both the offensive and defensive ends. He scored six points on 3-4 shooting and corralled six rebounds in the opening 20 minutes, and added an assist and two steals as well.
The Olmstead Falls, Ohio native was again a pestilent presence at the top of WVU's 1-3-1 zone, deflecting passes and coming up with an outright steal that led to a WVU basket. Gansey's play helped the Mountaineers hold the Demons to just 38.2% shooting from the field.
Gansey finished with a double double of 12 points and 11 rebounds despite sitting out two stretches of the second half with leg cramps. However, his contributions proved to be enough to keep the Mountaineers in front for the rest of the game.
Darris Nichols again played well in J.D. Collins spot. Collins had four fouls and also missed a long stretch in the second half after being tripped and knocked to the floor on a layup attempt which injured his knee. Nichols made both of his shots, including a beyond-halfcourt bomb that closed the first half and gave the Mountaineers a 41-19 lead.
More importantly, Nichols handled Northwestern State's press well, and dished out five assists against just one turnover.
West Virginia disproved the notion that it is solely a three-point shooting team, as it drove to the basekt repeatedly against Northwestern State's tight defense. Despite making just four field goals in the second half, WVU hit 17 of its 23 chances from the free throw line to keep the Demons at bay.
West Virginia benefitted a great deal from two Northwestern State technical fouls that resulted in four free points for the Mountaineers. Had the Demons been able to avoid the acts that led to those calls, they would have trailed by just four points, rather than eight, at the 4:14 mark. That could have made quite a difference as they mounted their last rally.