Pittsnogle leads WVU over So. Illinois
Auburn Hills, MI (Sports Network) – Kevin Pittsnogle poured in 18 points to
lead West Virginia to an easy 64-46 win over Southern Illinois in first round
action of the Atlanta bracket at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Mike Gansey added 10 points for the sixth-seeded Mountaineers (21-10), who now
move on to face Northwestern State in the second round of the tourney on
Sunday. Patrick Beilein chipped in with nine points while Franklin Young had
eight in the win.
Jamaal Tatum and Matt Shaw each had 12 points for the Salukis (22-11).
After a solid first half, the tournament tested Mountaineers continued to
play frontrunner in the second half and used their superior three-point
shooting to carve out the easy victory.
Beilein’s bomb from the left of the circle gave West Virginia a 19-point
cushion, 56-37, with 6:03 left.
Nearly three minutes later Gansey connected on another triple to stake the
Mountaineers to their largest lead, 64-41.
The Salukis had no answer for West Virginia’s firepower and never made a
serious run in the second half.
The Mountaineers finished 11-of-31 from long range while Southern Illinois
managed to shoot just 4-of-12 from beyond-the-arc.
“I don’t know if there is a better shooting team in the country,” SIU head
coach Chris Lowery said.
West Virginia used a 16-3 run in the first half to take control of the game.
Pittsnogle connected on a three to cap the burst that turned a small 18-14
edge into a 34-17 lead.
Southern Illinois managed to close to within 12 by intermission, 36-24.
Pittsnogle paced the Mountaineers with 10 points at the half while Shaw
had 10 for the Salukis.
This was the first-ever meeting between the two schools….Southern Illinois
is now 5-9 all-time in the NCAA tourney, West Virginia is 16-19..Southern
Illinois was making its fifth consecutive appearance in the “Big Dance”, and
it has achieved five straight 20-win seasons for the first time in school
history…Last year, West Virginia defeated Creighton in the first round en
route to an unlikely trip to the Elite Eight…The Mountaineers are making
back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time since 1986-87.