Men Finish Sweep of Herd

West Virginia held off a feisty Marshall University squad in Charleston on Wednesday evening to record their twelfth victory in fifteen tries agains the Herd in the Toyota Capital Classic.

It was the same story for the Mountaineers, as once again Drew Schifino and Kevin Pittsnogle led the way for the West Virginia. Schifino had a double double for WVU with 21 points and ten rebounds, including 7-10 from the free throw line. Schifino was stellar with the game on the line, hitting two game clinching buckets and going 3-4 from the free throw line as a reult of drives down the middle of the lane.

Pittsnogle added 14 points, three rebounds and three blocks in only 22 minutes of action as Coach Beilein got at least 18 minutes from seven different players.

It wasn't just the young Mountaineers who helped lead the way, however, as Chaz Briggs played 18 strong minutes, going three of four from the field for six points, with two rebounds and three assists. Josh Yeager, who got 19 minutes, chipped in seven points, four rebounds a assist and a blocked shot.

The game started out slowly as both teams traded missed shots before Marshall broke through first on a stick-back by 6-10 center, Ardo Armpalu (10 points, 5 rebounds) almost a full minute into the game. WVU got its first points on a Tyrone Sally (7 points) lay-up with an assist from Schifino.

Marshall would go on the first run of the ballgame, as Monty Wright, who shot a horrendous 3 for 14 from the field, hit a three pointer to ignite a 10-2 run that turned a WVU 9-4 lead into a 14-11 Marshall advantage with 12:57 to go in the first half.

WVU turned things around as they switched to their 1-3-1 zone, which seemed to mystify Marshall, whose coach loves a little 1-3-1 of his own. WVU battled back to take a 16-14 lead and then ran off a 12-2 run of their own, highlighted by a Yeager three-pointer, a Joe Herber 3 pointer and a Chaz Briggs dunk that stretched the WVU lead to 28-18.

Marshall was already showing signs of things to come as star guard Ronald Blackshear had already missed six shots and turned the ball over twice. Monty Wright was also struggling with his offense, as he was two for eight from the field in the first half against the stingy Mountaineer defense.

WVU's defense deserved much of the credit for the four point, 36-32 halftime lead as Jarmon Durisseau-Collins' swarming coverage at the point made it difficult for Marshall's A.W. Hamilton to get the offense set up. Also, Tyrone Sally's pressure defense on Ronald Blackshear, along with WVU's sagging defense in the paint, made the going for the Herd very difficult.

Not to be outdone, Marshall started the second half with a little defense of its own. The Herd went right to Armpalu to start the second half, and David Anderson (12 points, 7 rebounds) rebounded and stuck in a bucket to cut it to two. Then Armpalu stole a Tyrone Sally pass and drove the length of the floor for a dunk that tied the game at 36 with just over 30 seconds gone in the second stanza.

After trading buckets to knot the score at 38, WVU went on another mini-run to stretch the lead back to 6 after Pittsnogle's second three pointer of the game. Marshall turned the ball over twice and committed two fouls during WVU's surge, and the better than 2-to-1 Mountaineer crowd in the crowd of 11,900 roared its approval, forcing Greg White to part with one of his much cherished time-outs.

Down 46-41 with 11:17 to play, Marshall went on a little spurt, led by Marvin Black (10 points, 6 rebounds) who made a couple of inside buckets and two free throws to help Marshall take the lead back at 51-50. The lead would bounce back and forth for three trips, with Marshall taking their final lead at 53-52 with 5:40 to go in the ball game. Marshall's crowd came to life, as WVU was unable to score for the next 2:36. But WVU's defense was up to the task, and held Marshall scoreless for 3:09.

Pittsnogle hit his third and final three pointer of the game to give WVU the lead at 55-53, and after Armpalu stuck in a rebound to tie the game, WVU took the lead for good on a drive by Schifino with 2:16 to play that gave WVU a 57-55 lead. Schifino would score on the same play on WVU's next possession to extend the lead to four with 1:29 to go and the free throw shooting contest was about to begin.

Marshall didn't quit, however, as Monty Wright scored to make it 59-57 with 39 seconds to play. Blackshear fouled Joe Herber (5 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds) who calmly stroked two straight freebies to extend the lead back to four with 31 seconds to go. Tyrone Sally got a steal on Marshall's next possession and Pittsnogle was fouled.

Pittsnogle, now shooting the double bonus, hit one of two to make the lead 62-57 with 21 seconds to play, but Marshall sped right back down and Blackshear (17 points, 4 rebounds) hit a runner with 10 seconds to go to make it a three point game at 62-59.

Schifino again was fouled, and this time he nailed both shots to extend the lead to 64-59. Marshall roared right back down and Armpalu scored with 4.4 seconds to go to cut it back to three, and Schifino was fouled again on the inbounds pass.

This time Schifino missed the first free throw and Greg White inserted Ronnie Dawn, a 60% three-point shooter, into the game hoping Drew would miss the second, as WVU cleared the lane to avoid fouling with so little time left on the clock.

Schifino nailed the shot, WVU led by four with four seconds to go and the Mountaineers won their 10th game of the season.

WVU shot 46.2% from the field, including 35.3% from three point range, and 64.7% from the free throw line.

Marshall ended the game shooting 38.8% from the field, 25% from three-point land and 57.1% from the free throw stripe.

WVU returns to action on Sunday at the Coliseum as the Rutgers Scarlet Knights come to town. WVU hopes to avenge two large beatings at the hands of the Knights, who are 8-8 on the season, 0-4 in the Big East and riding an ugly five game losing streak.

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