After a dreadful start, the Mountaineers found themselves in a hole too deep to climb out.
Rico Gathers had 17 points and 16 rebounds, and No. 19 Baylor pummels No. 15 West Virginia 87-69 in front of a sold out Coliseum crowd on Saturday afternoon.
Devin Williams got the Mountaineers out to an early 2-0 lead, and it looked like Baylor couldn’t handle West Virginia’s press. The Bears would quickly turn the tables and go on a 21-0 run and take command of the game.
The Bears answered the Mountaineers’ pressure defense and started throwing long passes for uncontested 3s. Baylor made four of them during its nearly seven minute barrage against West Virginia.
Royce O’Neale and Taurean Prince tallied 15 points each for the Bears. Kenny Chery and Al Freeman added 11 apiece.
Devin Williams had a season-high 20 points and 15 rebounds for West Virginia. Jevon Carter scored 13 points and Daxter Miles Jr. added 10.
Senior guard Juwan Staten was held to just six points.
Gathers dominated the Mountaineers inside in the first half, scoring 10 points and grabbing nine rebounds in the first 12 minutes.
Trailing 23-3, Williams broke the Mountaineers’ scoring drought when he made one-of-two free throws.
Carter netted a shot from beyond-the-arc with 6:12 left in the half. Seconds later the freshman guard dropped down another 3 inching West Virginia closer to Baylor.
The second half went much like the first for West Virginia. Jonathan Holton scored early on when he drove to the net, but Baylor had a response.
A 9-0 run at the end of the game, sparked by a 3-pointer from Miles, helped the Mountaineers avoid its worst home loss in Bob Huggins’ tenure as head coach.
“To be one of the best teams you have to learn how to handle this adversity, said Williams. “I think we will be alright.”
The Mountaineers shot 36 percent from the field and 26 percent from three-point range. Baylor shot 55 percent from the field.
West Virginia forced 19 turnovers, but they turned the ball over 16 times.
“We have been trying to fix the turnover deal,” said Huggins. “It’s the reason we have lost games.”
“Think about the really good teams, the Sweet 16 team, the Final Four, they didn’t turn the ball over. We got more shots and we rebounded. We started out doing those things and now we got away from them.”
West Virginia will look to snap its two game losing skid when they take on Kansas State on Wednesday night at the Coliseum.