MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Behind Esa Ahmad’s 14 points and eight rebounds, No. 19 West Virginia University pounded the University of New Hampshire 100-41 in the opening game of the NIT Season Tip-off on Sunday afternoon at the Coliseum.
“I think that’s the best Esa’s played,” head coach Bob Huggins said. “I think that’s the hardest that Esa’s probably played.”
Lamont West scored 13 points. Jevon Carter and Nathan Adrian both had 12. Teyvon Myers added 11 and Tarik Phillip 10 for the Mountaineers.
WVU (3-0) had all 12 players score that saw action.
Iba Camara tallied 12 points and Tanner Leissner had 11 for the Wildcats (2-2).
The story of the afternoon was the Mountaineers’ blistering pressure defense. WVU forced UNH to turn the ball over 34 times, leading to 47 points. They had 19 steals.
The Wildcats and the Mountaineers were evenly matched on the boards.
“(UNH head coach) Billy (Herrion) is a really good coach and they are a really good in half-court if you saw their Temple game,” Huggins said. “They make adjustments, they make great reads on screens and we try not to let people run what they want to run and we were pretty successful today.”
WVU came out sluggish in the second half. Adrian’s layup with 15:47 was the first field goal the Mountaineers had made in over three minutes.
After that, it was smooth sailing for WVU. The Mountaineers went on a 15-5 run to take a 68-32 lead with 8:51 remaining in the game.
WVU ended the game on another run outscoring the Wildcats 36-9 in the final 10 minutes, which included baskets from Chase Harler, James Long and Logan Routt.
The Mountaineers showed a lot hustle in the first half. Carter saved the ball from going out of bounds and Myers slammed it in to give WVU a 16-6 lead with 12:16 left.
“He makes special plays every day,” Huggins said of Carter. “He has great feet, he has great hands and he has great timing. He does things every day that I don’t know if I have ever had anyone do.”
Harler’s 3-pointer capped a 22-2 run by t to go ahead 23-6 with 10:27 to play in the first half.
James “Beetle” Bolden dropped a 3 with three second remaining to give the Mountaineers a 46-20 lead at the half.
WVU shot 54.4 percent from the floor and 46.9 percent from 3-point range. UNH shot 30.4 percent from the field and made 4-of-21 from beyond the arc.
The Mountaineers next game is on Thursday, November 28 when WVU takes on Illinois at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. at 2:30 p.m. as part of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Cover Photo Credit: All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks photo-wvusports.com