West Virginia had the wheels fall off in the second half of their opening game of the Fort Myers Tip-Off event. After leading by 11 at halftime, WVU was outscored by 23 in the second half, eventually falling 70-58 to SMU. .
West Virginia started the first half in a sloppy and quick way. The Mountaineers gave into what SMU wanted to do of run the floor and play fast, as the game started at a hectic pace.
That pace led to WVU being careless with the basketball early, but when they weren’t the duo of Quinn Slazinski and Jesse Edwards made their mark. Slazinski scored eight points within the first three minutes as WVU took an early 12-8 advantage.
SMU answered back with a 7-0 run, as the lack of depth seemed to lead to tired legs as the Mountaineers were trying to settle in to the game. Edwards would take the game over during the final 10 minutes of the first half.
Edwards scored six points, and was active on defense. He also would be the focal point of WVU’s offense, drawing the attention of the Mustang defense on every possession. Edwards finished the first half with 12 points, four rebounds, and two blocks, as the Mountaineers took a 36-25 lead into the locker room.
To start the second half, SMU’s pressure and fast pace got the best of the Mountaineers.
West Virginia led 38-27 with 18:24 to play in the second half. SMU would get right back into the game, going on a 7-0 run, as Chuck Harris scored six of the seven points. Slazinski answered back with a three-pointer to settle down the Mountaineers, but the Mustangs answered Slazinski and company with an 8-0 run, with Ricardo Wright hitting a pair of three-pointers, and SMU took a 42-41 lead.
West Virginia would continue to struggle offensively in the second half, as through the first 12 minutes of the second half, WVU was shooting 4 for 18 from the field, and went 1 for 6 from beyond the arc. An Edwards layup off an offensive rebound put the Mountaineers in from by three, but the Mustangs went on a 10-0 run over a 3:42 span.
The run ended with WVU’s Kobe Johnson turning the ball over under WVU’s basket, leading to an easy layup for B.J. Edwards as their lead ballooned to 54-47.
Josiah Harris would hit a much needed jumper, before SMU would once again come back with a bucket, as their lead remained at seven with just more than six minutes to play.
West Virginia would cut the lead to four on a Seth Wilson three-pointer with 5:58 to play, but that would be the closes the Mountaineers got the remainder of the night.
Samuel Williamson had a hustle play in order to get a foul called on Jesse Edwards on an offensive rebound, as he made his two free throws, then Ja’Heim Hudson made a layup off another SMU offensive rebound.
The dagger would come with 3:40 to play as Wright hit his fourth three-pointer of the game in as many tries, as SMU led 66-54 with 3:14 to play.
Wright came into the game 1 for 10 shooting beyond the arc, but made all of his attempts on Monday. SMU shot 46 percent from beyond the arc and 60 percent from the field in the second half, after they shot 25 percent from three and 37 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes.
Slazinski’s Second Half Struggles
Slazinski started the game off hot, going three for three from the field and scoring eight points, including a pair of made three’s. He would make only two of his next 10 shots. Slazinski finished the second half at -18. Slazinski wouldn’t be the only Mountaineer to struggle in the second half, as the entire team did.
The Mountaineers shot 26 percent from the field over the final 20 minutes, going 2 for 10 from three. WVU was also out-rebounded 22-14.
Free Throw Fatigue?
Free throws were once again not great for the Mountaineers. Multiple front ends of one and one’s missed, and missed five free throws in the second half and went 13 for 21 (62 percent) on the night.
Edwards was the main culprit going 4 for 9 from the free throw line on the evening.
West Virginia faces No. 24 Virginia in the third-place game at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.