West Virginia falls in second round of tournament to Marquette, 67-61
Published: Thursday, March 10, 2011
Updated: Thursday, March 10, 2011 01:03
Throughout most of the season, the West Virginia men's basketball team was a Jekyll and Hyde of sorts when it came to its first and second halves.
On Wednesday night, another second-half collapse doomed the No. 6-seed Mountaineers in their second-round upset loss in the Big East Conference Tournament to No. 11-seed Marquette, 67-61.
"I packed a full bag," said forward John Flowers. "I expected to be here until Saturday night."
The Mountaineers (20-11) had a 10-point lead with 17:45 to play in the game, but the team hit just six shots in the second half and fell to the Golden Eagles (20-13).
WVU shot 58.3 percent in the first half. In the second half, it shot just 22.2 percent.
"It's been a year-long problem. We just don't make open shots. I don't know what to tell you," said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. "I've said it and said it and said it, we just don't make open shots. We made some shots in the first and then the second half, we didn't."
The loss snaps a three-year streak of WVU advancing to at least the semifinals of the Big East Tournament. The Mountaineers will now have to wait until Sunday to find out where they will be heading for the NCAA Tournament.
With the win, Marquette likely secured itself a bid to the NCAA Tournament and should make for a record 11 teams from the Big East to make the big dance. The Golden Eagles will face Louisville tonight at 9 in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament.
The Mountaineers quickly found themselves in trouble in the matchup as the team's defensive anchor, Flowers, was whistled for two quick fouls.
With Flowers on the bench, Marquette began to expose WVU's defense, as it sunk transition buckets and found lanes to drive into in the paint.
"We needed him in the game," said point guard Truck Bryant. "He is one of the best defenders in the country."
Following a turnover by Marquette, Bryant led a two-on-one down the floor and attempted a layup, which was rejected.
With Bryant down behind the play, forward Jimmy Butler hit an uncontested three from the corner to give the Golden Eagles a six-point lead, 14-8.
The Mountaineers, however, settled down on defense and began to find their stroke from the field, particularly from beyond the arc with seven 3-pointers in the opening half.
Paired with a 6:28 shooting dry spell for Marquette, WVU finished the first half on a 14-1 run that gave it a 36-29 lead heading into the locker rooms.
WVU would open the second half with a fast bucket by Flowers, but the excitement was short-lived as the dynamic of the game drastically changed.
Just as they had most of the night, the Golden Eagles
pinpointed their offensive attack at Flowers, and it paid off again.
Flowers was whistled for his third foul of the game under three minutes into the second half of play.
"We looked like a whole different team out there, especially on the glass," Jones said.
Marquette took advantage of the Mountaineer defense almost immediately and was able to take their first lead of the second half.
Guard Junior Cadougan, who tied with Jones for a game-high 15 points, was the driving force behind the momentum shift, as he hit two acrobatic layups in the paint.
"They just wanted it more in the second half, and they started to control the tempo of the game with their offense," Bryant said. "Basketball is a game of runs, and they made their runs."
Action in the second half began to even out when the Mountaineers switched to a 1-3-1 zone, but WVU went ice cold from the field with just six second half field
Despite struggling to find open looks in the zone, Marquette made just enough shots to give them a five-point lead with 31 seconds remaining.
After two free throws by Bryant, WVU had a chance to tie the game when Bryant stole the inbounds pass.
Instead of holding for the last shot of the game, Bryant forced a tough layup, which was then rebounded by the Golden Eagles to close out the contest.
"I was just caught up in the moment when I got the steal," Bryant said. "My first reaction was to look at the time, and then I drove to the basket to score a goal and get the foul."