Poor free-throw shooting dooms West Virginia in loss
Published: Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 00:02
They're called free throws for a reason, but in Monday night's 82-75 loss to No. 4 Villanova, No. 5 West Virginia had a difficult time cashing in from the charity stripe.
Afterward, WVU players didn't have nearly as difficult of a time explaining how much their poor foul shooting impacted the outcome of the game.
"It was one of the main reasons that we lost," said WVU forward Kevin Jones, who finished 1-of-4 on free throws.
Jones was one of four Mountaineers to shoot 50 percent or less from the line. Every WVU player who attempted a free throw missed at least one, with the exception of Casey Mitchell, who hit his only attempt.
West Virginia entered the game a respectable sixth in the Big East in foul shooting at 69.2 percent, but it hardly showed after an 18-for-32 performance at the line.
"We can't blame anybody but ourselves. (Head) Coach (Bob Huggins) makes us shoot free throws before we leave, and that's just something we need to do more often and take it more serious," said WVU point guard Truck Bryant.
Despite shooting 10 more free throws than Villanova, WVU scored one less point on foul shots than the Wildcats.
Jones echoed Bryant's statements that WVU players only have themselves to blame.
"Coach does make us shoot a minimum of 50 every day, sometimes 100. That's just on us not focusing at the line," he said.
Villanova came into the contest shooting a conference best 75.3 percent on free throws, and it only improved that mark by going 19-of-22.
The only Wildcats player to miss free throws was Corey Fisher, who still finished a solid 7-for-10.
Villanova guard Scottie Reynolds was 10-for-10, with every attempt coming in the second half.
Reynolds' ability to hit from the foul line seemed to get the rest of his offensive game in rhythm. After scoring just two first-half points, Reynolds finished with a game-high 21.
Villanova head coach Jay Wright understood the importance of the huge disparity in free-throw percentage.
"Them not shooting well from the free-throw line made a big difference," Wright said.
Sophomore forward Devin Ebanks entered the game with the best free-throw percentage on the Mountaineers of any player to attempt at least five this season.
However, even Ebanks was off the mark, finishing just 1-for-4, while admitting that he started thinking about free throws after his first miss.
"I don't really miss free throws that much, but we have to work at it more in practice," he said. "It was (mental) for me. When I missed the second one of my two free throws, I started thinking about it and missed three."
Huggins understands how critical free throws are, particularly in a conference as challenging as the Big East.
"It's a hard league. It's really hard when you go 18-for-32 from the foul line," Huggins said.
Outside of Da'Sean Butler's 7-for-10 performance, the rest of WVU shot a combined 11-for-22 from the free-throw line.