The No. 4 seeded West Virginia Mountaineers lost in a battle against No. 5 seed Oklahoma State, 72-69, in the quarterfinal round of the Big 12 Conference Tournament on Thursday.
West Virginia (18-9, 11-6 Big 12) nearly had an improbable double-digit comeback victory after falling behind by 10 points with less than six minutes remaining, but junior guard Sean McNeil’s game-tying three-pointer did not get off in time.
The Mountaineers began the game fighting turnovers to lead by five less than eight minutes into the first half. In the first half, WVU had 10 turnovers compared to just five in the second half.
West Virginia held a slim lead with under seven minutes to play in the first half before Oklahoma State (19-7, 11-7 Big 12) went on a small run to take its first lead in almost ten minutes. Four-straight free throws put the Cowboys ahead by three before halftime, but WVU guard sophomore guard Miles McBride took over to push the Mountaineers back into the lead.
In the final four minutes, McBride scored eight points which included back-to-back scores in the final 12 seconds to give West Virginia a 36-30 lead at the half.
West Virginia began the second half with a surge to hold its largest lead of the game at 47-39, with 13 minutes to go in regulation. Over the span of the next six minutes, Oklahoma State went on a 21-3 run to lead by 10 with under six minutes left.
As things began to look bleak for the Mountaineers, senior guard Taz Sherman took over. After falling behind by 10, WVU quickly cut the lead to five following a three-point basket from Sherman. Sherman scored eight-straight points for West Virginia that cut the Oklahoma State lead to just one with three minutes remaining.
Sherman nailed another three-pointer with under a minute to go to give West Virginia its first lead since it was 50-48 with 11 minutes to play. Following two free throws from Oklahoma State’s Isaac Likekele, the Mountaineers had an opportunity to tie the game before the buzzer, but McNeil was unable to get his shot off in time.
For the game, West Virginia shot 42% from the field and 7-of-23 (30%) from three-point range. The Mountaineers only attempted nine free throws, making six.
Sherman and McBride tied to lead all scorers with 19 points each. Sherman scored 14 points in the second half after shooting 4-of-8 (50%) from behind the arc.
Oklahoma State will await the winner of the No. 1 Baylor/No. 9 Kansas State game to see who it will play in the semifinal round on Friday. West Virginia will wait for the NCAA Tournament seedings to be announced to see who it will face in the First Round next week in Indianapolis, Indiana.