Mountaineers bring down Ohio State
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe were in early foul trouble. The Mountaineers were missing free throws. Rebounding — usually a WVU strong point — was being handled by No. 2 ranked Ohio State. Playing on a neutral court in its home state, the once-beaten Buckeyes had a nine-point lead just before halftime at the Rocket Mortgage Arena in Cleveland.
And then with a true team effort, the Mountaineers outpointed Ohio State by 38-22 in the second half to leave the Lake Erie area with a more than satisfying, 67-59 win.
The Mountaineers had 11 players get at least eight minutes of playing time, with reserve freshman guard Miles McBride able to contribute 21 points in 25 minutes. Another reserve guard, Chase Harler, added 10 points as West Virginia’s oft-used bench outscored Ohio State’s reserves, 45-17.
The free throw line — often a wasteland for West Virginia teams — saw the Mountaineers go only 15-for-25 or 60 percent, while Ohio State, now 11-2 overall, went 21-for-29. The Buckeyes claimed 41 rebounds to West Virginia’s 34. Culver had 10 West Virginia rebounds.
Trailing 37-31 at halftime, West Virginia went to its dressing quarters with both Culver and Tshiebwe dragging three fouls with them.
The announced crowd of 16,781 in the 20,562-seat arena was primed for another Ohio State success like the ones the Buckeyes already had over Kentucky, Villanova and North Carolina.
Turnovers began to irritate the Buckeyes. They started making mistakes, and their field goal accuracy wasn’t fashionable enough to save them. The scant few 48 shots Ohio State attempted weren’t going to beat West Virginia because only 31 percent of them connected.
West Virginia had caught up in the first four minutes of the second half. The Mountaineers free throw accuracy picked up some in the second half.
In the next 10 minutes, many of the game’s 10 lead changes and seven ties took place.
With 4:43 to play, the Buckeyes had a 54-53 lead.
West Virginia would outscore the mistake-laden Buckeyes, 8-0, to grab a 61-54 lead.
In the game’s last 2:22 of tense play, McBride made two free throws, connected on a leaning jumper near the end of the shot clock for a 59-54 WVU lead with only 1:14 remaining, made two more free throws with but 33 seconds showing and closed out the game’s scoring with still another two free throws with only two seconds on the fading clock.
Ohio State coughed up 22 turnovers while the Mountaineers had 17. West Virginia was 22-for-54 from the field, or 41 peacent.
Now the Mountaineers travel to Lawrence to begin Big 12 play against Kansas in a game on Sunday.
Beating the second-ranked Buckeyes by negotiating a path full of hazards and missing free throws and lagging in rebounding might just give West Virginia a boost in confidence with this road game at the Phog Allen Field House just ahead.