Missed Opportunities

The best and worst of Mountaineer basketball was on display in WVU's 75-70 loss to Boston College on Sunday.

At its best, WVU displayed the crisp ball movement and scrappy defense that led them to wins over Florida, Tennessee and Miami earlier this year. The Mountaineers passed the ball well, attacked the offensive boards, and shot the ball well enough to run out to a 36-20 lead in the first half.

Defensively, WVU (9-6, 1-3) got their hands on numerous Boston College passes, made several steals that resulted in fast break opportunities, and generally confounded the Eagles' offense.

At that point, however, the Mountaineers simply fell apart. West Virginia began firing up quick three pointers, tried to go one on one, and attempted several high risk dribbling maneuvers in the open court. That's not West Virginia's preferred style of play, and the result was a 10-0 BC run to close the gap to six points at the half.

"We are just not at the point yet where we can maintain our composure," head coach John Beilein lamented after yet another tough loss. "We just don't have the experience yet to stop those five minute runs that we are giving up."

The proof of that observation is in the numbers. WVU jacked up 24 three pointers despite being cold from that distance, and made only six. Many of those shots were either forced or taken before the offense was set, which also resulted in easy rebounds and transition opportunities for BC. Drew Schifino and Partick Beilein combined to go 1-11 from that distance.

In the second half, West Virginia came out like they were trailing by six rather than leading by that margin, while Boston College (8-6, 1-2) displayed a higher level of energy and effort. As a result, the Eagles quickly began whittling into the WVU advantage. The chief tormentor was freshman bull-in-a-china-shop Craig Smith, who scored a career high 30 points against the undersized Mountaineers. Smith was helped by a strangely flat WVU team, which displayed none of the fire they had shown in the first half. Smith got four second half hoops were he was completely uncovered.

Despite the poor play, West Virginia had the chance to get back into the game late, but missed several layups and free throws down the stretch. WVU cut the deficit to four points at just under the one minute mark, but could draw no closer.

After shooting reasonably well in the first half, WVU finished at 43.5% from the field, including a miserable 25% from three point range and 40% (4-10) from the free throw line.

Ryan Sidney added 18 points and Troy Bell 12 for the Eagles, who got their first conference win of the season.

WVU heads to Charleston on Wednesday for their last out of conference game of the year against Marshall. Gametime is 8:00 p.m. at the Charleston Civic Center Coliseum.

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