West Virginia trailed by as many as 12, but battled past a strong shooting performance from Eastern Kentucky, winning, 80-77.
Fifth year senior Taz Sherman had a career-high 28 points, with 18 of his points coming in the second half, while the Mountaineers shot 58.3% in the second half, helping to push West Virginia to a win.
Eastern Kentucky opened the game on a 12-2 run, as they made their first four three-pointers attempted in the first half. West Virginia responded quickly, with senior guard Sean McNeil making his lone three-pointer of the game, to cut the Eastern Kentucky lead to four.
The Colonels stayed in front for the majority of the first half, sparked by their three-point shooting. Eastern Kentucky made seven three-pointers in the first half, including nine points from Jannson Williams, who scored a team-high 22 points.
West Virginia’s offense went cold from the floor for most of the first half. The Mountaineers made only two three-pointers, with Jalen Bridges and McNeil combining for only four points.
Eastern Kentucky opened the second half in the same fashion they opened the first. Williams hit a corner three right out of the break to put the Colonels up 44-38. Sherman responded with a corner three of his own, to get the deficit back to three.
Fifth year senior Gabe Osabuohien helped the Mountaineers keep pace with the Colonels in the second half. Osabuohien had four second-half rebounds, along with one steal and one assist. That assist came at a key time — with West Virginia trailing 63-57, Gabe dished a pass to Sherman who was able to hit a three-pointer from the right side of the arc, cutting the EKU lead to three.
Osabuohien made his presence felt just minutes later, as he and McNeil were both able to grab offensive rebounds, leading to a Malik Curry left handed layup, putting West Virginia ahead 77-72 with 1:55 remaining.
Eastern Kentucky got a basket on their next possession, cutting the Mountaineer lead to 74-77, before Curry again drove to his left, and kissing the ball off the glass to put West Virginia back in the drivers seat, 79-74.
West Virginia’s defense forced 17 Eastern Kentucky turnovers on the evening, and were able to get 19 points off those turnovers. The Mountaineers shot 21.7% from three-point range, but found scoring when they needed it most down the stretch.
West Virginia will be off until Tuesday, when they host Bellarmine at the WVU Coliseum.
Photo by Dale Sparks, All Pro Photography