For the first time since 2015-16, the West Virginia men’s basketball team is undefeated through the season’s first five games.
Thanks to a last second basket from Emmitt Matthews Jr., the Mountaineers picked up their fifth-straight win on Tuesday as they dropped Northern Iowa by a 60-55 final score in WVU’s first game of the Cancun Challenge.
Despite scoring the game’s first points with a layup from Oscar Tshiebwe, West Virginia had been working from behind for most of the game.
Northern Iowa’s A.J. Green countered the Tshiebwe score with a three-pointer and, while the Mountaineers did momentarily take back the lead with around 10 minutes remaining in the first half, the Panthers were able to enter halftime with a 23-20 lead.
Returning to the floor for the second half, Northern Iowa (6-1) opened on a 6-2 scoring run before WVU head coach Bob Huggins called a timeout less than two minutes in.
West Virginia (5-0) emerged from the timeout and picked up two quick points from Matthews. The bucket was a lone bright spot as the Panthers responded by going on a 10-0 run before a three-pointer from WVU’s Chase Harler snapped the scoreless streak.
After clawing back within striking distance, Matthews and West Virginia were able to take the lead with a layup with 16 seconds remaining on the game clock. Sean McNeil and Miles McBride were able to add points from the free throw line, extending the lead.
In the game’s final moments, the WVU defense was able to put the clamps on the Northern Iowa offense, securing the victory.
Leading both teams in scoring was McBride, who ended the night with 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field while also going 5-for-7 from the free throw line. Guard Jermaine Haley added in 10 points of his own, while McNeil finished third on the team with nine points.
Northern Iowa’s top offensive performance came from guard Isaiah Brown, who ended the night with 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field.
On Wednesday, West Virginia will take on Wichita State (6-0), which defeated South Carolina in order to advance. The game will tip off from Cancun, Mexico, at 8:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network.