No. 18 Notre Dame pulls away in second half to down West Virginia 71-44
Published: Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Updated: Thursday, February 23, 2012 00:02
West Virginia was able to hang with No. 18 Notre Dame for a half, but that was it.
Notre Dame started the second half on a 30-8 run en route to a 71-44 rout against West Virginia Wednesday night at the Joyce Center.
It is the worst loss by the Mountaineers since Jan. 5, 2005 when they lost by 38 to Villanova.
"We're just not very tough. I hate to say that, but it's the truth," said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins. "They can shoot. We can't. (Our players) have no grasp on reality. No one cares. We just don't fight through things."
The Mountaineers were outscored 41-16 in the second half. It's the lowest point total in a half since they played Notre Dame back on Feb. 8, when they scored 16 in the first half.
The 44 points Wednesday and the 51 Feb. 8 against Notre Dame were the two lowest scoring games WVU has had against Notre Dame in program history.
Notre Dame was 9-of-16 from 3-point range, while West Virginia was just 1-of-11. It's the first time since the Mountaineers lost to Xavier in the 2008 NCAA tournament that they made just one 3-pointer.
"You can't let people get it going, and we let them get it going," Huggins said.
The Irish were led by four double-figure scorers. Guard Jerian Grant scored a game-high 20 points including four 3-point buckets. Scott Martin added 15, while Jack Cooley and Eric Atkins each had 13 points.
West Virginia senior Kevin Jones led the Mountaineers with 15 points and 8 rebounds. Senior Truck Bryant had ten points.
Junior Deniz Kilicli had just 8 points and 5 rebounds in what Huggins called an "uninspired" performance.
Huggins also said following the game that freshmen Keaton Miles and Aaron Brown didn't play because they haven't worked in practice.
The loss also drops West Virginia to just 1-12 when playing at the Joyce Center – the last win was in 1996.
The Irish scored the first six points of the second half, and then after four points from Jones and Kilicli, they scored ten
unanswered off of two 3-pointers.
West Virginia jumped out to a quick start of the Irish scoring the first six points in the first three minutes after a Gary Browne layup and two Kilicli shots. After four Notre Dame points, Jabarie Hinds hit a 3-pointer to give West Virginia a 9-4 lead
Notre Dame, though, wouldn't let the Mountaineers pull away, and pulled the score to 13-11 at the 11:36 mark.
Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey picked up a technical foul with 10:58 remaining in the first half after the Irish were called for an illegal screen. Bryant hit both free throws to give West Virginia a 17-11 lead.
The Irish went on a 10-4 run to tie the game up at 21 with just over five minutes remaining in the first half. Notre Dame outscored the Mountaineers 60-39 after Brey's technical foul.
A Jack Cooley layup would then give Notre Dame a 23-22 lead just a possession later – its first lead of the game. The Irish would extend its lead to 29-26 after the final media timeout following a pair of Colley free throws.
Notre Dame shot 61.4 percent from the field, while the Mountaineers managed just a 31.5 percent mark.
"I've never had a team give up 60 percent shooting in two halves," Huggins said. "Never. Not in 30 years.
"This game is so much a mindset. When your mind is not right, it's hard. When it starts going south, it's hard to get it turned."