Mistakes doomed WVU against Hilltoppers
CONWAY, S.C. — An error-filled, off-themark performance Friday night has the West Virginia University men’s basketball team gearing up for a Sunday consolation game in the Myrtle Beach Invitational, where the Mountaineers will try to escape with a .500 record.
The Mountaineers shot just 33 percent from the floor and committed 22 turnovers to fall to Western Kentucky, 63-57, in the Myrtle Beach Invitational at the HTC Center on Coastal Carolina University’s campus. That sent the Hilltoppers to the tournament’s championship at 6:30 p.m. Sunday against UCF and the Mountaineers into the consolation bracket.
WVU ends its stay in South Carolina with a 4 p.m. Sunday game against Saint Joseph’s on ESPNU.
West Virginia (1-2) tied the game 57-57 when Sagaba Konate hit one of two free throws with 86 seconds left. But Desean Murray followed that for WKU with a dunk to put the Hilltoppers ahead to stay.
In a battle of the big men, Charles Bassey got the best of Konate. The WVU junior standout recorded three blocks, but he hit just one shot from the floor in six tries and finished with just five points. Bassey recorded a double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds and went 7 for 8 from the free-throw line.
The Mountaineers continued to struggle, as it has to start the 2018-19 campaign, keeping a hold on the ball. West Virginia’s 22 turnovers were a season high and Beetle Bolden committed a game-high five. They also went cold yet again from beyond the arc, making just 6 of 25 (24 percent) 3-pointers.
Western Kentucky fared worse than WVU from the floor overall (17 of 53, 32 percent) and from 3 (2 of 9, 22 percent) but lived at the freethrow line, making 27 of 34 from the stripe.
That free throw shooting is what kept WKU (3-1) within striking distance of the Mountaineers in the first half. The Hilltoppers made just 8 of 26 shots from the floor in the first 20 minutes, but went 15 of 17 from the free-throw line and went into the halftime break down just 35-33.
Taveion Hollingsworth’s jumper with 14:24 left in the game gave WKU a 40-39 lead and the Hilltoppers were able to stay ahead to the Mountaineers for most of the rest of the game. WVU’s last lead came with 6:21 left in the game off a pair of Lamont West free throws. That lead lasted 75 seconds before WKU went ahead again on two Josh Anderson free throws.
Esa Ahmad led West Virginia with 12 points, but went just 4 of 13 from the floor with four turnovers. Bolden added 10 points. Hollingsworth tied with Bassey for the game high with 13 points and Anderson added 12.