Coastal Carolina crushes WVU 109-91
MORGANTOWN — The stated goal of the West Virginia University men’s basketball team in this year’s College Basketball Invitational tournament was to gain some valuable experience for a young team that struggled through most of the season, but played well in bursts over the last month.
Monday’s experience, however, is one the Mountaineers will likely want to forget as soon as possible.
Coastal Carolina University hit shots from all over the court in both halves, as the Chanticleers rolled past the Mountaineers for a 109-91 win in the CBI quarterfinals Monday at the WVU Coliseum — the most points ever scored by a visiting team at the Coliseum.
Freshman DeVante Jones led the way for the Chanticleers with 32 points, most of which came in the first half as Coastal built a lead the Mountaineers would not be able to overcome. For the game, CCU (17-16) hit on 43 of 74 shot attempts, including a 13-of-28 mark from 3-point range.
“They shot the ball extremely well from the outside,” WVU junior guard Chase Harler said. “Half of that was them making the shots, the other half was really just us not playing very good defense. It was kind of the story of our season — take a couple of steps forward, think we’re going in the right direction, then take a couple steps backwards. In order for us to be a better team as a unit, we have to continue moving forward and limit those steps backwards as much as possible.”
As much trouble as CCU gave West Virginia (15-21) from outside, the Chanticleers were tough on the inside Monday as well. Coastal outscored WVU 52-36 in the paint and out-rebounded the Mountaineers 41 to 37.
“We got intimidated around the goal by some 6-5 and 6-6 guys, let’s be honest,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said. “We’re usually trying to to score around the goal with people much bigger than they are. We didn’t make shots. That happens sometimes.”
West Virginia standout freshman forward Derek Culver was noticeably absent from the starting lineup and sat the bench for the entire first half. The Coliseum crowd chanted, “We want Culver” on several occasions during the game’s first 20 minutes, but Huggins did not give in to their pleas. Culver was late to Monday’s game, Huggins told the media, and his punishment was to sit the bench in the first half.
“He was late,” Huggins said of Culver. “This whole mess started because I compromised my principles. You try to help people and some people you can’t help.”
Culver was back on the floor for the Mountaineers in the second half, but his presence did not matter much to the game’s outcome. Even when West Virginia would do something well, CCU was still bombing shots from all over on its end of the floor.
“I’ve done this for 40 years, man,” Huggins said. “They didn’t go like they usually do in practice. They’ve been good — they listened, they tried to do what you asked them. ... I don’t know. We had no bounce. Had no pep in our step. (Coastal) got to every loose ball. We start the second half, we blocked three shots — they got seven points out of three blocked shots. I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t think we were like we were in Kansas City — ready to play.”
On Coastal Carolina’s first 13 possessions of the second half, the Chanticleers made 13 baskets. During that span, CCU scored 32 points in less than eight minutes of game time after scoring 50 in the first half.
“We kind of just dug ourselves a hole in the first half and scoring was really never the issue for us,” Harler said. “We just gave them wide-open shots and they were just hitting all of them. I think they shot about 58 percent for the game, which is very unacceptable. We were going back and fourth with them, but that’s kind of hard to do when you’re down by 14.”
Jones led all scorers Monday while five other CCU players finished in double-figures -- including a 15 point, eight rebound effort from the team’s leading scorer this season Zac Cuthbertson.
For West Virginia, junior forward Lamont West and freshman Emmitt Matthews each finished with 21 points to lead the Mountaineers while Haley went for 12 points and 10 rebounds. Harler scored a career-high 15.