Bounding Away

Back in October, head coach John Beilein said there'd be days like this.

That correct prediction doesn't make Wednesday's 88-69 loss to Notre Dame any easier to take, however. The Mountaineers were pulverized on the boards and offered little resistance to Notre Dame players going to the offensive glass, giving up 22 rebounds on that end of the floor.

Yielding shot after close in shot, and third chance piled on top of second chance, is something akin to a football defense that can't stop the run. And the Mountaineer interior defense on this night was about as porous as the football defense of 2001.

"They are a bad matchup for our 1-3-1 zone because they've got four passers and four shooters," Beilein said after the game. Again, his statements were right on the money.

Forced to abandon their trademark zone for much of the contest, WVU played a man to man look that held the Notre Dame perimeter players in check for the first half. However, Irish frontcourt players who don't scare the basket in most games put up totals that kept the Irish comfortably in front for most of the contest.

Center Tom Timmermans, who lost his starting job midway through the season, tossed in nine points and added eight rebounds against a passive and beleaguered WVU front line. Jordan Cornette added seven points and six rebounds. Even point guard Chris Thomas snared six balls off the glass. In fact, every Notre Dame player that saw more than token court time, with the exception of guard Chris Quinn, collected at least six rebounds. Six Irish players had as many or more rebounds than WVU's leader (Pittsnogle with six).

WVU did cut the Irish lead to two at one point, but the Mountaineers were unable to sustain the few runs they did make due to a number of uncharacteristic quick shots. West Virginia did protect the ball reasonably well (suffering 13 turnovers), but did the next worst thing by firing up a number of quick three pointers. The Mountaineers then compounded the problem by treating the offensive backboard as if it was infected with the Ebola virus. WVU got only six rebounds after their own missed shots on the evening.

The Mountaineers did shoot the ball reasonably well, hitting 45.5% from the field, but the avalanche of second chance points they permitted put them into a hole that was too deep to escape.

In addition to Schifnio's 20 points, foul-saddled Kevin Pittsnogle had 11 points. Tyrone Sally added nine, Josh Yeager eight and Joe Herber seven.

The road doesn't get much easier for the Mountaineers, as they will make a two night stopover in Morgantown before heading to Villanova for a Saturday afternoon game at 2:00 p.m.

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