West Virginia Beats Canisius; Moves To 3-0

West Virginia, pressed for the first time this season, decided to run Canisius out of its own game. The Mountaineers, known as a systematic, shooting team, forced an up-tempo style that led to 30 Canisius turnovers in WVU's 66-43 win here Saturday.

Joe Alexander scored a game-high 16 points and Frank Young added 14 to pace West Virginia, which started 3-0 for just the second time under fifth-year coach John Beilein, who started his Division I career at Canisius.

The Mountaineers' perimeter-oriented offense was limited early by the Golden Griffins' pressure, not starting possessions until there were less than 25 seconds remaining on the shot clock. So Beilein decided to apply additional defensive in the 1-3-1 zone and a faster offensive style. That confused Canisius (0-2), which committed its most turnovers in more than two seasons and came within four of tying the most by any WVU opponent.

"This year's team looks very, very quick to me, and they got their hands on a lot of balls," said Beilein, who is working with eight new freshmen. "I think we have a bunch of terrific kids who have bought into our defensive system. While we are figuring out who to play, we have to hang out hats on defense."

West Virginia did just that in clamping down on Canisius after trailing 3-0. The Mountaineers scored nine consecutive points to take the lead for good, then held Canisius to just two field goals in 13 minutes as they pieced together a 21-7 run from the 14:52 mark until there were less than two minutes remaining in the opening half. Young, who had just seven points in first two games this season, scored nine in the push, including a put back with 4:26 left in the first half to give WVU a 30-14 lead. The teams traded baskets to end a physical, mistake-filled period that had a combined 27 turnovers.

"I had noticed that I was fading on some of my shots, so I stayed and worked on that," said Young, who is WVU's leading returning scorer off last year's Sweet 16 team. "It was good to get that back."

The Mountaineers methodically built on their advantage throughout the remainder of the game. Alexander, who also had six rebounds and four blocks, scored eight straight points to put WVU ahead by 25 at 47-22 with 14 minutes remaining. West Virginia's largest lead came on Alex Ruoff's free throw with 6:47 left that made it 61-31.

"We wanted to play at a fast pace, but it got a little sloppy," first-year Canisius coach Tom Parrotta said. "When you have 30 turnovers, it is hard to beat a good team."

The initial up-and-down play allowed WVU – which doubled its total turnovers with 19 itself – numerous chances around the rim. That led to 11 of 16 shooting from inside the arc in the opening half, by far the Mountaineers best shooting performance in any half this season. West Virginia had 30 points off turnovers and 34 points in the paint, a rarity for the outside shooting team which relies upon three-pointers. It made just six three-pointers in the game, but that was enough in a contest that saw the Griffins, who now have 53 turnovers in two games, miss 15 of 21 from behind the arc.

"When you throw flat passes and have freshmen handling the ball, that is what is going to happen," Parrotta said. "It will get sloppy."

Canisius was led by Frank Turner's 10 points off the bench. Its starters combined for 28 points against 21 turnovers. The Grifs made just six of 22 field goals in the first half (27.3 percent), while the Mountaineers hit 14 of 27, but missed eight of 11 three-pointers. WVU went just 10 of 28 from the foul line and six of 21 from three-point range overall.

"I don't remember the last time any of my teams shot that way," Beilein said. "If you look at who took the shots, it was mostly first-year players. Last year we shot 74.7 percent from the line. I guarantee we are not going to do that. We have to watch it climb, and hopefully it does so quickly."

Rob Summers and Darris Nichols both added nine points for WVU, which advanced to 25-2 in non-conference games under Beilein. Summers, who scored his career-high, also added a career-best four blocks.

Canisius, 1-7 in its last eight road games dating to last season, must play six of its next seven away from home. The Mountaineers next play Thanksgiving night at 9:30 p.m. against Montana in the Old Spice Classic at Disneyworld, in Orlando.

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