Redshirt sophomore forward Kevin Noreen recorded his first double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds in a 68-67 victory over the Hokies at the WVU Coliseum. It was the first loss of the season for VT.
“I don’t know what it was. It was just one of those days,” Noreen said. “This was a make-or-break game, and I guess I just took that intrinsically and translated it onto the court today.”
It was Dayton transfer Juwan Staten who scored a driving layup with under 10 seconds to play to put the Mountaineers, which trailed much of the second half, up for good.
After a timeout, VT guard Erick Green missed a jumper at the buzzer to give the Mountaineers the victory.
The Mountaineers have now won three straight games and improve to 4-3 on the season.
“This win definitely gives us more confidence,” said center Aaric Murray. “Coming into the game, they were 7-0 and making quotes about how they had to help us sell our crowd. Coach told us to get back to the type of team we can be and beat everyone.”
WVU, which has struggled from 3-point range all season long, finished 10-of-24 from deep. That was the most threes made in a game for WVU since Dec. 22, 2011 vs. Missouri State. It made seven threes in the second half.
“We always knock down shots in practice, and we just did it in a game today,” Staten said. “It was really key for us to come out and knock down shots, because it opened up the defense.
WVU out-rebounded Virginia Tech by 11 and had 32 more bench points.
Noreen hit his first two threes of his career at WVU and was 6-of-10 from the field. He also had two blocks and one assist in 33 minutes coming off the bench.
“If there’s kids out there that want to a basketball player, Kevin’s a great role model,” said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. “Over the years, I’ve had some really wonderful, hardworking guys, but I don’t know if I’ve had one that puts in more time.”
Outside of Noreen, Murray finished with 15 points and seven rebounds. Guard Eron Harris had 10 points and five rebounds.
Virginia Tech was led by Green with 23 points. Guard Robert Brown had 21 points. No other player had more than eight points.
The Hokies shot just 33.3 percent in the first half and finished at 41.5 percent, but hit just 5-of-18 threes.
“They averaged a lot of points, but they never played a defense like we play,” Murray said. “We just came out and played the defense we know we can.”
West Virginia took a 30-24 lead into the locker room after scoring 13 straight points in the middle of the first half.
The Mountaineers, however, struggled defensively in the first five minutes of the second half, which helped VT gain the lead.
It was the 3-point shooting that gave West Virginia a leg up. Two threes from Noreen and Harris apiece were enough to gain the victory.