Late second-half let down leads to West Virginia’s fourth loss in five league games
Published: Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Updated: Thursday, February 9, 2012 03:02
West Virginia had a 43-40 lead and all the momentum with 4:20 remaining.
But Notre Dame refused to go down easy.
Notre Dame hit back-to-back-to-back 3-point shots in the final two minutes to secure a 55-51 victory against West Virginia Wednesday night.
"They were 2-for-18 from three, and they made three in a row," said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins. "They miss that three, and we come down and score – we probably win that game."
Notre Dame's Eric Atkins, Jerian Grant and Scott Martin had the three 3-pointers each. The Irish finished just 5-of-21 from 3-point range.
"They hit those threes and put the game out of our hands," said West Virginia senior forward Kevin Jones, who scored 14 points and collected 12 rebounds, but his nine game streak of at least 20 points was snapped.
West Virginia was led by freshman guard Jabarie Hinds who scored 17 points, on 8-of-12 shooting.
Junior forward Deniz Kilicli had 17 points and was seemingly the only consistent force for the Mountaineers.
"We just couldn't shoot it from the outside," Kilicli said about the Mountaineers 2-for-16 performance from 3-point range. "They wanted to guard Truck (Bryant) – we didn't have anyone else make outside shots."
Bryant, a game removed from a 32-point performance against Providence, scored zero points on the night. He did finish with a career-high eight assists.
Huggins was happy with the way Bryant played, despite the lack of scoring.
"I'm not blaming Truck," Huggins said. "He really tried to win. He didn't force things."
West Virginia shot 58.6 percent in the second half, but its 24.1 percent shooting performance in the first half held the Mountaineers back.
West Virginia and Notre Dame didn't have a stoppage in play for the first 6:13 of the game, but the two schools started off a dismal 3-of-16 from the field.
The Irish used a 9-0 run to jump out to a 19-12 lead at the 5:12 mark of the first half. West Virginia was held without a
basket for a seven minutes until it scored to make it 19-14, with 2:47 remaining in the first half.
Notre Dame extended its lead in the first half, and it finished the half on a 7-2 run to take a 26-16 lead into the break.
West Virginia's 16 first-half points were the lowest the Mountaineers scored since they played Villanova in March of 2010, when they also scored 16.
The Mountaineers shot just 24.1 percent in the first half, while Notre Dame shot 26.2 percent
The Irish extended its lead to 12 on the first possession of the second half, but West Virginia fought back to within four after a Kilicli hook shot.
The Irish didn't give in until the Mountaineers went an 8-0 run to tie the game at 38 with 6:46 left.
West Virginia took a 41-40 lead just two possessions later – its first lead of with 5:22 remaining.
Notre Dame's Jack Cooley led his team with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Martin and Grant each finished with 12 points.
"(The locker room) is hurting" Jones said. "This was a game we were sure we could win."