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Mountaineers overcome 2nd-half struggles in 66-60 win over Drexel

MORGANTOWN — It began with Josiah Harris discovering himself on their own with nothing however a runway to the rim.

There was a lob dunk from Kobe Johnson to Jesse Edwards on a superbly executed choose and roll, a 3-pointer from 6-foot-10 ahead Akok Akok and a one-handed leaner from Johnson amongst site visitors within the paint.

All of it got here within the second half Saturday throughout West Virginia’s 66-60 victory towards Drexel contained in the Coliseum.

Which is newsworthy in the truth that WVU (4-5) hasn’t been a very good basketball workforce after halftime this season.

Losses towards Monmouth, SMU, Virginia and Pitt all instructed totally different tales about these Mountaineers, whether or not it was about frustration settling in, having opponents sticking one wild 3-pointer after one other at them, missed alternatives or just carrying down bodily.

It didn’t occur towards the Dragons (5-5).

“It was sort of a circulate we obtained into,” was the distinction WVU middle Jesse Edwards noticed. “There have been some power performs that obtained that going. Coach (Josh Eilert) has tell us that we haven’t been performing within the second half the best way he needs us up to now.”

It was Eilert’s closing level he made to his gamers, as they obtained able to take the courtroom for the second half.

“We simply saved constructive power,” WVU guard Seth Wilson stated. “We saved taking part in laborious for each other and tried to make the proper basketball performs.”

Wilson was a serious motive WVU was solely trailing 33-31 at halftime. His 9 factors over the primary 20 minutes broke him free from a three-game stoop by which he totaled simply 11 factors over 79 minutes of motion.

“I believed we had a extremely good stretch within the first half and we must always have had a much bigger cushion,” stated Drexel head coach Zach Spiker, a Morgantown native and MHS graduate. “If you happen to obtained a much bigger cushion — that run that they make — we have been sort of taking part in catch-up.”

And the Mountaineers have been studying to play with a lead, which grew to as massive as 62-54 with 4:14 remaining.

“Within the two days main as much as the sport, the large message for me to our guys is don’t lose the enjoyment on this sport,” Eilert stated. “All of us dreamed of being ready to be the place we’re at, whether or not that’s us as coaches or these guys as gamers. I stated don’t second guess your self. Play with full confidence and while you get a very good have a look at your shooters, let it fly.”

Which is what WVU was in a position to accomplish. Recognized for a lot of the season because the workforce that couldn’t shoot straight or because the workforce that merely wouldn’t shoot in any respect, the Mountaineers got here out and related on 53.3% (16 of 30) over the ultimate 20 minutes.

A significant increase got here from Akok, who performed simply his second sport of the season after lacking the primary seven video games with a medical situation.

His 3-pointer with 14:48 left gave WVU a 46-42 lead, and he adopted that up with a lay-up after Johnson hit him with a protracted transition cross. He performed 12 minutes and added two assists and a blocked shot to associate with his 5 factors.

Edwards scored 10 of his 16 factors within the second half and Quinn Slazinski scored 14. Wilson had the 9 factors within the first half and completed with 11 factors, his first time in double figures because the second sport of the season.

“Seeing Seth get that early one and you might simply inform it was a flip of a change,” Eilert stated. “I saved on attempting to return at him and get him extra photographs. I’m going to go to the new hand every time I can. It was refreshing to see 7 for 17. It’s a very good change of tempo there.”

Drexel was led by guard Justin Moore, who completed with 20 factors and Amari Williams completed with 12 factors and 15 rebounds.