Mountaineers defeat Northwestern State, roll into Sweet 16
Auburn Hills, MI (Sports Network) – Kevin Pittsnogle scored 14 points as West
Virginia overcame a poor second-half shooting performance to hold off
Northwestern State, 67-54, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the
Palace of Auburn Hills.
Mike Gansey added 11 points and 12 rebounds for the sixth-seeded
Mountaineers (22-10), who made the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive
season and will now move on to face the Texas – North Carolina State
winner on Thursday in the Atlanta bracket. Frank Young and J.D. Collins
each chipped in with 10 points apiece in the win.
Clifton Lee and Keenan Jones led the 14th-seeded Demons (26-8), who were
coming off a thrilling comeback victory over heavily favored Iowa in the first
round, with 11 points each. Jermaine Wallace added nine points in the loss.
Northwestern State was just the 15th 14-seed to win a first round game in the
tourney and finished its season with a school-record 26 victories.
West Virginia dominated the overmatched Demons from the start with a torturous
defense that forced 13 turnovers in the opening half.
A 13-1 flurry turned a 6-5 Mountaineers’ deficit into an 18-7 lead
midway through the opening frame. Gansey highlighted the run with a pair of
layups and West Virginia never trailed again.
Pittsnogle’s lay-in with under five minutes left in the half extended the
Mountaineers advantage to 15 points, 30-15.
West Virginia finished the half with a commanding 41-19 edge after Darris
Nichols buried a running three from beyond midcourt at the buzzer.
West Virginia was not nearly as dominant in the final frame but the hole
Northwestern State dug was too large to recover from.
A 7-0 Demons burst, fueled by Kerwin Forges, early in the second half brought
Northwestern State to within 17 points.
Forges scored on back-to-back layups and finished the mini-spurt with a triple
to make the score 50-33 with just under 13 minutes remaining.
The plucky Demons continued to hang around and used a 9-0 burst to cut the
lead to nine, 53-44, with 6:58 left. Jones scored all nine points in the
flurry as Northwestern State desperately tried to climb back in the game.
Pittsnogle finally stopped the bleeding with a pair of free throws and Collins
followed with another two from the stripe to give West Virginia its double-
digit cushion back, 57-44, with 5 1/2 minutes remaining.
The Demons had one last burst in them and scored the next five points of the
game. Wallace and Lee sandwiched a Jermaine Spencer free throw with a bucket
apiece to make it an eight-point game, 57-49, with 4:16 left.
West Virginia finally sealed the deal over the next three minutes. Collins
scored on a layup. Then, Patrick Beilein and Young each netter a pair from the
line to give the Mountaineers an insurmountable 64-49 edge.
This was the first-ever meeting between the two clubs…West Virginia shot 54
percent in the first half but just 20 percent in the final frame…The
Mountaineers dominated from the charity stripe, netting 24-of-33. The Demons
were just 6-of-11…Northwestern State is now 2-2 all-time in the
NCAA tourney while West Virginia is 17-19.