West Virginia struggles shooting, falls to Gonzaga 77-54 in second round of NCAA tournament
Published: Friday, March 16, 2012
Updated: Friday, March 16, 2012 01:03
Nothing went right for the West Virginia men’s basketball team Thursday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
The first-half collapse by the Mountaineers proved too much as they fell 77-54 to Gonzaga to abruptly end their season.
"They out-toughed us tonight," said senior guard Truck Bryant, in his final game as a Mountaineer. "That’s just a bad way to end your career. We’ve never been out-toughed like that before."
The Mountaineer offense went stagnant, and the defense was nowhere to be found in the first half.
Gonzaga used a 16-1 first-half run to build a comfortable 27-10 lead with 7:53 remaining in the first half.
The Mountaineers didn’t have a field goal for more than eight minutes in the first half.
Freshman Gary Browne hit a 3-pointer at the 14:31 mark. Their next field goal was a Kevin Jones field goal at the 6:16 mark to make it 27-12 in favor of the Bulldogs.
"This is the worst defensive team I’ve ever had in 30 years," said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins. "We don’t give help. We don’t get loose balls. We just don’t do the things that we’ve been doing for years and years."
Gonzaga took a 40-22 lead in the break. The major difference between the two teams in the first half was shooting. The Bulldogs shot 50 percent, while West Virginia managed to shoot just 23.1 percent.
"We didn’t have time to be down at halftime," Jones said. "We were already down in the game."
Gonzaga was 6-of-10 from behind the arc in the first half, which enabled it to jump out ot the lead. The Mountaineers made only one of the ten 3-pointers it took.
"They played great defense," said senior forward Kevin Jones, also playing in his final game. "They had confidence and they played well together. We weren’t making open shots. It was just a combination of things."
Gonzaga continued to pour it on in the second half.
The Bulldogs out scored West Virginia 37-32 in the second half, and again used their shooting advantage to get there. The Bulldogs shot the ball better in the second half with 63.9 percent.
West Virginia shot 43.5 percent from the field, but again, was just 2-of-7 from 3-point range.
Gonzaga had four players finish in double-figure scoring.
Robert Sacre and Gary Bell Jr. each had 14 points. Kevin Pangos had 13 points and Elias Harris had 10.
"They just made shots," Kilicli said, who finished with 10 points. "They had a hell of a game."
Kilicli said the Achilles heel of this team – not being able to make open shots – was what came back to bite West Virginia against Gonzaga.
"Every team has weaknesses, and this was our weakness all year," Kilicli said. "We have to make open shots and take what they gave us. That’s what the tournament is about. We deserved to lose."
The loss also marks the last time seniors Jones and Bryant suited up for the Mountaineers. Jones finished with a 13 points and only four rebounds, while Bryant had 9 points on 2-of-9 shooting from the field.
Browne added 15 points on 10-of-11 from the free throw line.
"They played great defense on me," Jones said. "There were three guys on me the entire time. That’s better than anyone else has done.
"It’s tough knowing that this is my last game. You just hope for the rest for the younger guys."