WVU Sweeps Scarlet Knights

Freshman guard Patrick Beilein hit four pressure free throws down the stretch to preserve West Virginia's 52-46 road basketball win against Rutgers on Saturday.

"I know my son is a good foul shooter, but putting your son in there - do you want that hanging on him?" head coach John Beilein asked after the game with a laugh. "But, if he wasn't my son, I'd put him in there, and he knocked them down."

Beilein's late game pressure shots preserved the win in a defensive oriented battle where baskets were hard to come by. After Rutgers opened quick leads of 10-0 and 15-5, the scoring pace slowed dramatically, but WVU was able to put up enough points to rally for the win.

"At 10-0 it didn't look good," Beilein said. "I thought with a slow start our heads would go down, but that's a great testament to what we are trying to do - stay in the present."

Sophomore guard Drew Schifino, who scored 24 points on 7-18 shooting and hit four threes in the contest, said Beilein kept the Mountaineers under control after the rough start.

"We just weren't making our shots, but it was still early. Coach B told us to stay calm and be focused, and that's what we did."

In addition to Schifino, senior forward Chaz Briggs had a big game. Coming off the bench after Rutgers smothered starting center Kevin Pittsnogle, Briggs provided immediate rebounding muscle and helped the Mountaineers erase Rutgers' early 10 point lead. WVU outscored the Knights 20-8 at the close of the half to take a two point lead into the locker room.

In the second half, WVU played a 2-3 zone and shut down Rutgers, but didn't fare much better from the field themselves. The Mountaineers scored just two field goals in the final 12 minutes of the game, but hit enough free throws and played well enough defensively to hold on to the win. "I've played the 2-3 zone for 25 of my 27 years. It's the one I know the best," Beilein noted of his defensive strategy. "The 1-3-1 is not a good match against this team (Rutgers)."

Neither team shot well from three point range. WVU was 6-18 from that range, while Rutgers was 5-20.

In the end, the difference in the game was at the free throw line. WVU made 14 of their 19 shots, while Rutgers hit just seven of 16.

Drew Schifino played all forty minutes in the contest, and the Mountaineers used just eight players in the game. One of those, Josh Yeager, played for less than one minute. Briggs finished with seven points and eleven rebounds.

West Virginia returns home for a pair of games next week. the Mountaineers host Notre Dame on Tuesday, then face suddenly streaking Seton Hall on Saturday.

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