MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Derek Culver scored a career-high 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as West Virginia held off Rhode Island 86-81 on Sunday afternoon at the Coliseum.
“He played well, he played well,” head coach Bob Huggins said. “You know he’s able to handle a lot of physical play. He’s a big, strong guy. We ended up going to him a lot more than what we wanted to initially. Then, he didn’t do a really good job of throwing out of doubles and things.”
Jermaine Haley tallied 18 points for the Mountaineers (7-0). Emmitt Matthews Jr. had 14 points and Oscar Tshiebwe 11.
Fatts Russell led the Rams (5-3 ) with 32 points. Cyril Langevine chipped in 14 points and Tyrese Martin added 10.
For the 10 minutes, the two teams exchanged shots before WVU used a 19-9 run to take a 42-30 lead with 49 seconds remaining in the first half on Matthews’ layup.
The Mountaineers led 44-33 at the break but Rhode Island rallied in the second half and tied the game 60-all on Jeff Dowtin’s layup with 9:26 left.
However, WVU refused to relinquish the lead again.
Tshiebwe hit a jumper and a three-point play a minute apart and later made another free throw for a 73-66 lead with 5:09 to play.
The Rams had a final chance to tie it but a pass went out of bounds off Russell’s hands with four seconds to go.
The Mountaineers had a 37-31 advantage on the boards.
WVU shot 45 percent from the floor, 31 percent from beyond the arc and 77 percent from the charity stripe
Rhode Island shot 48 percent from the field, 70 percent from 3-point range and 67 percent from the line.
The Mountaineers travel to New York City on Saturday to take on former Big East foe St. John’s. Tipoff is slated for 12 p.m. (ET).
Cover Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS