The West Virginia men’s basketball team faced a tough test against the Northern Colorado Bears on Monday night at the WVU Coliseum, winning 69-61.
The Mountaineers (3-0) got off to a hot start in the first half, taking an early 15-3 lead. The Bears (2-3) responded and cut the lead to seven at 20-13 before WVU went on a 10-0 run to take a 17 point lead — the largest lead of the game.
WVU went cold after that and Northern Colorado chipped away. The lead got as close as 10 and would remain that way until halftime. The Mountaineers led, 40-30, heading into the locker room after a deep three was hit at the buzzer by Northern Colorado sophomore Bodie Hume.
In the second half, the Mountaineers could not pull away, with the largest lead being 51-37. The Bears responded with a 17-3 run and would tie the game at 54. WVU countered by going on a 10-0 run fueled by sophomore Derek Culver and senior Jermaine Haley.
After taking the lead, the Mountaineers wouldn’t look back and took the game by a score of 69-61.
“We got up and then we got a little giddy with it and threw it around a little bit,” West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins said after the game. “We didn’t guard, (we) quit guarding the way we were guarding.”
Haley led the Mountaineers with 18 points and 12 rebounds, his first double-double of the season. He shot seven-of-10 from the field but only three-of-six from the free throw line.
Junior college transfer Taz Sherman got his first start of the season, ending with eight points on three-of-five shooting including two-of-two from three-point range.
Culver did not enter the game until the second half but finished with 13 points and five rebounds in 11 minutes of action.
Freshman Oscar Tshiebwe had a tough game, finishing with only four points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes.
“Oscar looked like a freshman again,” Huggins said of Tshiebwe. “Went too fast. As much as you say slow down, slow down, slow down, he didn’t slow down.”
The Mountaineers held a 42-24 rebounding advantage over the undersized Bears.
WVU will be back in action on Friday when they take on the Boston University Terriers at 7 p.m. The game will be the second of two at home as a part of the Cancun Challenge before the Mountaineers travel to Mexico during the week of Thanksgiving.