MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Jermaine Haley scored 24 points and West Virginia defeated Grand Canyon University 77-63 in the opening round of the Roman College Basketball Invitational on Wednesday night.
Emmitt Matthews and Lamont West chipped in 11 points apiece. Chase Harler had 10 points and Derek Culver had 10 rebounds
The Mountaineers (15-20) used a 22-2 run midway through the second half to take a 71-53 lead and put away the Antelopes (20-14).
Trailing 51-49, Logan Routt’s putback tied the game and lit a fire under WVU. Harler followed with a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws.
“It wasn’t the travel,” GCU head coach Dan Majerle said. “It was more West Virginia, and how they pushed the pace and beat us on the boards. Like I said, our guys just didn’t find a way in the second half to get it done.”
The Mountaineers outrebounded the Antelopes 49-36.
In the first half, GCU used their size to outman WVU. Matt Jackson’s jumper with 13:11 gave the Antelopes a 14-7 lead before the Mountaineers went on a 9-0 run to regain the lead.
The two teams battled back-and-forth the rest of the period. With time winding down, Routt found Haley, who finished with the fast-break dunk to give WVU a 36-32 lead at the break.
“Well, I watched them on film, and I knew they would be physical,” head coach Bob Huggins said. “They’re not just big, they’re skilled. They pass it well, they shoot it well. And that’s what I kept telling our guys. We have to push them out of their comfort zone. If you let them play comfortable, they are really good; really, really good.”Oscar Frayer led GCU with 13 points. Damari Milstead added 12 points.
The Mountaineers play Coastal Carolina on Monday at 7 p.m. (ET) in the quarterfinals at the Coliseum.
Cover Photo Credit: Shanna Rose, BGS