Monday, December 22, 2014

West Virginia proves to be more than Terriers can handle

It was like it was over before it even started.

Led by senior guard Juwan Staten, the nationally-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers started the game on an 18-2 run and hardly looked back, easily subduing the Terriers in a raucous WVU Coliseum atmosphere. Staten, a Dayton, Ohio, native, led all scorers with seventeen points and grabbed ten boards, helping to propel the 11-1 Mountaineers to a twenty-two point advantage at halftime.

Overwhelmed by the pressure put on by this West Virginia defense, the Terriers -- a squad that, coming into the game, only averaged about eleven turnovers a game -- gave the ball up twelve times in the first half, and soon enough, Wofford's foul trouble would catch up, further endangering the visitor's cause, which itself was bruised beyond healing before the half.

In all, the Terriers turned the ball over an astounding twenty-one times -- easily a superlative mark on the season -- and several players were dinged up in this physical matchup, won handily by the Mountaineers by a score of 77-44. Eric Garcia, whose jaw was struck before halftime, did not enter the court for the entire second half, while Karl Cochran also saw some bench time after what coach Mike Young described as a trivial hit to the "funny bone."

"What we have to do in terms of our schedule," Young, whose program dropped to 0-20 all-time against ranked opponents with the setback this evening, said in a postgame interview with the Wofford/IMG Sports Network, "that's unconscionable to be 9-3."

"Wish we didn't have to come here, but we do."

Wofford shot a cold 11-41 (27 percent) from the floor in the loss that dropped the team's record to 9-3, including a 6-18 mark from behind the three-point arc. On the other hand, Bob Huggins' Mountaineers made 27 (49 percent) of their 55 attempted shots, with just four of thirteen going in from three.

"They were good in some areas that I was nervous about," Young continued. "And those proved to be true as the thing moved along."

Spencer Collins led the squad in scoring with twelve points, closely backed by Karl Cochran's mark of ten, along with six rebounds. It was also a rare night in which Lee Skinner failed to score, missing all three of his attempted shots. Several Wofford players, including Bobby Perez and Zach Korkowski, got a rare taste of action off the bench tonight.

The Terriers, possibly a bit demoralized after such a loss, have a four-day break to look forward to before an even tougher contest at Duke on New Year's Eve. "It's nice for all of them to be able to get home and rest up, and spend time with family. They'll come back the night of [Dec. 27], and they'll be raring to go."

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