Mountaneers Fall Just Short Against Irish

West Virginia pulled out just about every stop imaginable against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Tuesday evening, but it wasn't quite enough to pull out an upset victory.

The scrappy Mountaineer squad switched defenses, battled on the floor for loose balls, and fought tooth and nail with the favored Fighting Irish for much of the contest, but were unable to score on either of their final two possessions after taking their only lead of the game at 55-54.

Notre Dame, on the other had, got a layup from Dan Miller with 15 seconds to go, which allowed the Irish to sneak out of Morgantown with a one point win.

After trailing by as many as a5 points in the second half, West Virginia put on a defensive stand that allowed the to whittle the Notre Dame lead to two points at 52-50. the Mountaineers then tied the score on a Joe Herber jumper with 1:49 to go. Chris Thomas responded with a driving shot of his own to put Notre Dame back in front by two, but a Kevin Pittsnogle three pointer, his third of the game, put WVU briefly back in front before Miller's shot.

The Mountaineers still had time to respond, but Drew Schifino was undercut on a drive and missed a shot, and Notre Dame grabbed the rebound. the Mountaineers, who only had three team fould to that point, then committed four straight fouls to put Miller on the line with six seconds to go. Miller missed the free throws, which was rebounded by Pittsnogle.

Pittsnolge passed the ball to Schifino, who fumbled it briefly before driving and putting up a leaping shot that glanced off the left side of the rim as time expired.

"We tell our players if there are six seconds or more to go that we aren't going to take a timeout," head coach John Beilein explained after the game. "Six seconds is enough time to got he length of the floor and lay it in. But, we didn't say that if we bobble the ball that we should call a timeout. that's something that comes with experience, after you've been in those situations a few times."

Schifino was agin WVU's leading scorer with 19 points. Patrick Beilein was the only other Mountaineer in double figures with 13. The Mountaineers managed just four offensive rebounds and four steals against the disciplined Irish squad. West Virginia faces Seton Hall on Saturday at the WVU Coliseum in another cruical game that will have a great impact on the Mountianeers' postseason hopes. WVU make the return trip to New Jersey to face the Pirates just eight days after this first meeting.

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