MORGANTOWN — A restructured WVU roster introduced some immediate offense.
The Mountaineers protection and rebounding, although, continues to be missing.
UMass scored 34 fast-break factors and dominated on the glass Saturday evening on the MassMutual Middle in Springfield, Mass. to tug away for an 87-79 victory in opposition to the Mountaineers within the Corridor of Fame Traditional.
“From Day 1 this summer time and at my first press convention, I believed that was going to be an issue,” Eilert stated on his postgame radio present of the Minutemen’s 47-32 benefit in rebounds. “It’s confirmed to be an issue evening in and evening out. That’s on me. Me and my employees have gotten to determine a brand new strategy to repair this.”
WVU (4-6) entered the sport after an emotional week of breaking information every day, and that stored proper on going all through the competition.
To sum it up, a federal court docket listening to in Wheeling on Wednesday opened the doorways for WVU to get guards RaeQuan Battle and Noah Farrakhan again on lively responsibility, whereas level guard Kerr Kriisa additionally grew to become eligible for the primary time this season after a nine-game NCAA suspension.
However, when recreation day arrived, the varsity introduced Battle would proceed to take a seat out due to the flu.
That didn’t cease Kriisa and Farrakhan from profiting from the WVU debuts. The 2 guards mixed for 35 factors and 11 assists. Kriisa performed 36 minutes — he cramped up momentarily within the second half — whereas Farrakhan did his injury in 18 minutes of motion.
“He did numerous good issues,” Eilert stated of Kriisa. “He made numerous pictures for us. We shouldn’t must depend on him a lot to attain the ball.
“Noah was on the market actually serving to us in dealing with the ball and placing stress on the rim, however as soon as we get RaeQuan on the market, he ought to be getting that kind of variety of pictures and Kerr’s will get reduce. It’s unlucky that Rae was sick.”
The opposite unlucky information centered round WVU’s Jesse Edwards, who had his worst recreation of the season, ending simply 1 of seven taking pictures with three rebounds.
UMass performed a bodily recreation with Edwards, which resulted in a double-technical foul between Edwards and Josh Cohen with 9:12 left within the first half.
“I advised the officers that someone was going to get harm,” Eilert stated. “I understand how individuals play Jesse Edwards, as a result of they know if he’s not within the recreation, we might be crippled so to talk. They continued to battle and hack and hack.”
Early within the second half, Edwards appeared to harm his proper wrist whereas going as much as catch a lob go for a dunk after which landed exhausting on it.
He was out of the sport for almost all of the second half, because the Mountaineers erased an 18-point deficit to come back again and tie the sport at 62 with 6:32 remaining.
WVU made that run from behind the 3-point line. At one level within the second half, the Mountaineers had 20 baskets for the sport, with 13 of them being threes.
WVU completed with 14, its most since Jan. 2, 2021 in opposition to Oklahoma, and the 79 factors scored have been additionally a season excessive.
The distinction was WVU couldn’t cease UMass (6-2) from scoring. The Minutemen scored 19 of their 34 fast-break factors within the first half to cruise to a 44-29 lead on the break.
Robert Davis Jr., who had simply eight 3-pointers all season, related on 6 of 8 from behind the arc on this one and completed with a season-high 18 factors.
Cohen’s 19 factors helped the Minutemen to complete with a 36-24 edge in factors within the paint and Rashool Diggins added 15.
Matt Cross completed with a double-double of 13 factors and 13 rebounds.
Quinn Slazinski had 20 factors for the Mountaineers, 14 coming within the second half. Josiah Harris, who attended his faculty commencement earlier within the day, earlier than taking a flight to the sport, added 10 factors.
WVU by no means held a lead within the second half, however UMass’ lead was simply 70-69 after Pat Suemnick tipped in a miss with 3:27 remaining.
From there, Cohen took benefit inside with attending to the road for 2 free throws after which an and-one 3-point play that gave UMass a 74-69 lead.
UMass then acquired two essential offensive rebounds on its subsequent possession that ultimately noticed Cohen get fouled and made two extra free throws for a 76-69 lead, and WVU by no means challenged once more.
“I simply advised our guys that we are able to’t wait to battle. We’ve got to battle from the leap,” Eilert stated. “I do know Frank (Martin, UMass head coach), we labored collectively. I knew his recreation plan. He was going to be as bodily as potential with us and make every part exhausting on us.
“He did and did from the leap. It took means too lengthy for us to bow up. I stated at halftime, you all higher bow up or its going to get ugly.”