No Excuses

The offensive spark provided by sophomore point guard Joe Mazzulla was a big reason why West Virginia nearly toppled No. 21 Pitt on Thursday night at the Peterson Events Center.

Afterward, with the building still clearing out and the perspiration still drying on WVU's new gold uniforms, Mazzulla and his Mountaineer teammates were searching for answers as to what went wrong.

Despite another inconsistent offensive performance which included the latest installment in a recent string of Shaq-like foul shooting, West Virginia had a big-time Big East road win right there for the taking on Thursday night. In a span of nine seconds, however, the Mountaineers wrestled away defeat from the jaws of victory.

And with a remaining Big East schedule which is heavy on potential wins but light on opportunities to impress the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, the sting of defeat was evident on the face of Mazzulla during postgame interviews.

"You can't put it into words," said the Rhode Island native with more than a hint of frustration. "We had the game won. We rebounded the ball, but we missed some foul shots again and didn't execute the last play on defense. We have nobody to blame but ourselves."

In a game of eight ties and 13 lead changes, Mazzulla could have easily chalked up the loss to the ball not bouncing West Virginia's way. Instead, the talented floor general stood up and placed the blame squarely on the Mountaineers, offering no excuses for the latest heartbreaking loss to a Top 25 team.

Perhaps some of the blame could have been shouldered by the three-man officiating crew, no? After all, each of the men in strips were at least partially responsible for the bizarre scenario which played out at the 4:58 mark of the second half which originally resulted in a pair of Mountaineer foul shots by Joe Alexander to cut Pitt's lead to one, only to be wiped away and replaced by a missed foul shot by redshirt freshman Cam Thoroughman.

Had those points not been taken off the board, the Mountaineers would have found themselves up four in the final 10 seconds instead of two, right? Woulda, coulda, shoulda? Mazzulla wasn't interested, though the fact that the play can be review was a tough pill for the sophomore to swallow.

"If they can review that, why can't they review a goaltend or a foul? I don't understand that at all, but that's the way it is," he said. We have to live with it. That may have had an effect on the game, but we still had a chance to win the game and didn't. We had the ball in our hands with nine seconds left and the lead, but didn't execute."

Instead, the Mountaineers are left to pick up the pieces with winnable home games against Rutgers and Seton Hall coming later this week.

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