The Latest: West Virginia beats Monmouth 71-53
CONWAY, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on the Myrtle Beach Invitational (all times local):
Esa Ahmad had 16 points on Thursday night and Sagaba Konate added 14 with eight rebounds and four blocks to help West Virginia beat Monmouth 71-53 in the opening round of the Myrtle Beach Invitational.
The Mountaineers (1-1) will play Western Kentucky in the semifinals Friday.
Konate completed a 3-point play to spark a 13-4 run over the final six minutes of the first half that gave West Virginia a five-point lead at the break. Mustapha Traore made a layup and his dunk 28 seconds later trimmed Monmouth’s deficit to 41-39 with 15 minutes to play but the Mountaineers scored the next nine points to spark a 25-6 run that pushed their lead to 66-45 with less than two minutes remaining. The Hawks committed six turnovers and shot just 1 of 12 from the field during that span.
Deion Hammond led Monmouth (0-4) with 10 points. The Hawks are off to their worst start since losing their first eight games of the 2011-12 season.
Jared Savage scored a career-high 25 points, including five 3-pointers, and Taveion Hollingsworth had 23 points and nine rebounds to help Western Kentucky beat Valparaiso 83-71 on Thursday night to advance to the semifinals of the Myrtle Beach Invitational.
The Hilltoppers (2-1) will play West Virginia on Friday for a place in the championship game.
Savage scored 11 points, including three 3-pointers, during a tie-breaking 13-4 run and, after Valpo’s Deion Lavender hit two free throws, Hollingsworth made a 3 and then converted a 3-point play to give WKU a 44-31 lead late in the first half. Lavender’s 3 capped a 10-2 spurt that pulled the Crusaders within 58-55 but the Hilltoppers scored 13 of the next 17 points to push their lead back into double figures and Valparaiso trailed by at least seven the rest of the way.
Markus Golder had 15 points, on 5-of-7 shooting, and eight rebounds for Valpo (1-1). The rest of the Crusaders made just 19 of 54 (35 percent) from the field.
Western Kentucky shot 51 percent overall, including 9 of 17 from 3-point range.
B.J. Taylor scored 14 points, Tacko Fall had 12 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks and Central Florida beat Cal State Fullerton 68-52 on Thursday in the first round of the Myrtle Beach Invitational.
The Knights will face Saint Joseph’s on Friday for a spot in the tournament championship.
Aubrey Dawkins, who missed all of last season with an injury after transferring from Michigan, added 13 points for UCF (2-1). Fall missed 16 of UCF’s 32 games last season and Taylor didn’t play in 16 contests due to a broken foot.
UCF closed the first half by scoring seven straight points for a 32-22 lead as Fullerton was held to 25 percent shooting. UCF scored the first seven points of the second half and led by double figures the rest of the way for coach Johnny Dawkins’ 201st career victory.
The Knights were third in the nation last season in scoring defense at 61.7 points per game.
Khalil Ahmad scored 15 points for Cal State Fullerton (1-2), which lost to Arizona State in overtime on opening night. Kyle Allman Jr. added 11 points and Jackson Rowe had 10. The Titans battle Wake Forest on Friday.
Charlie Brown Jr. made four 3-pointers and scored a career-high 26 points, Taylor Funk added six 3s and 20 points and Saint Joseph’s beat Wake Forest 89-69 on Thursday in the opening game of the Myrtle Beach Invitational.
Funk made all five of his 3-point attempts in the first half, scoring 17 points and helping SJU stay even with Wake Forest at 46-all by halftime.
Freshman Jared Bynum chipped in with 14 points and Lamarr Kimble had 12 for the Hawks (3-0), who made 16 of 30 from distance. SJU shot 53 percent from 3-point range and 52 overall. Brown has scored at least 20 points in every game this season, and SJU has won by 15 or more points in each contest.
Jaylen Hoard and Isaiah Mucius each scored 14 points for Wake Forest (1-1), which was held to 39 percent shooting. Seven Demon Deacon players made a 3-pointer, totaling 11. Hoard and Mucius had 11 points apiece in the first half.
The Myrtle Beach Invitational begins play Thursday with St. Joseph’s against Wake Forest.
That is the first of four games in the day’s first round for the eight-team field, which includes two power-conference teams in the Demon Deacons of the Atlantic Coast Conference and West Virginia of the Big 12.
UCF and Cal State Fullerton meet in the second game, followed by Valparaiso against Western Kentucky.
West Virginia plays the day’s final game against Monmouth. It will be the Mountaineers’ first game since losing at home to Buffalo, a loss that knocked them from No. 13 in the preseason AP Top 25 to unranked to start the week.
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