The Dukes did not take their first lead until fewer than six minutes remained, but that late surge was enough to knock off WVU 60-56 at the Consol Energy Center on Tuesday night, Duquesne’s first win over the Mountaineers since 2002.
It was a loss that left West Virginia’s players and coaches dumbfounded -- by their own inability to make shots (a 33 percent performance overall, including an abysmal 28.1 percent in the decisive second half) and by the fact they allowed the Dukes repeated opportunities to produce offense in transition (an 18-8 edge in fast break points).
“I’m going to preface what I say by saying it’s my job to fix it, and I will fix it,” WVU coach Bob Huggins said. “It’s 100 percent my fault. It’s my job. I’m the one that’s supposed to coach them up, and I’ve got to get them better.”
Even rebounding, a bedrock of WVU teams under Huggins, failed the Mountaineers on this night. Duquesne (6-4) won that battle 43-39 overall, and the Dukes only lost the battle for second-chance points 8-6.
Without those extra opportunities, the Mountaineers’ futile halfcourt offense was repeatedly on display. When WVU could not work the ball inside to forward Deniz Kilicli, it almost always found itself taking a jumper late in the shot clock.
That didn’t work, as West Virginia was only 4-of-18 (22.2 percent) from 3-point range -- including a 1-of-8 (12.5 percent) showing in the second half.
Nothing went right for the Mountaineers when it mattered most, as they made only one of their six free throw attempts in the second half after making all seven of their tries in the opening 20 minutes.
“We had every opportunity to blow the game open,” Huggins said. “We had offensive opportunities because of our defense and didn’t finish in transition. Obviously, we didn’t make shots.”
It came on the heels of what had been a strong first half from WVU.
Indeed, the Mountaineers (4-4) got the better of what was occasionally an ugly first half. West Virginia used an early 12-2 run to take a 16-6 lead, using its defense to force turnovers and generate transition opportunities.
It was the same story on the other side, though, as WVU’s missed jump shots served to kick-start the Dukes’ fast break. Duquesne did not score a single point in the first half that was not either in the paint or at the free throw line. The hosts missed all eight of their 3-point tries in the period. Not surprisingly, they trailed 36-23 at the intermission.
“The truth of the matter is I think we got a false sense of security when we went up 15,” Huggins said. “We took some bad shots. We were horrible in transition, and they got back in the game in a quicker way. They made a 3, they made another 3, then they had a lot of confidence to shoot 3s. You have to give them some credit: they made open shots, and we didn’t.”
West Virginia’s bench was an asset in the first half, as 15 of its 36 points in the first half came from the reserves.
Prominent among them was Matt Humphrey, as the transfer scored five points in seven minutes in the action. Battling a nagging shoulder injury, he had only played a total of four minutes in the Mountaineers’ previous four games, logging only one minute against Marshall and missing the entirety of his team’s wins over VMI and Virginia Tech.
Humphrey finished with 10 points, including WVU’s only made 3-pointer in the second half. Juwan Staten led WVU with 13 points and four assists, but made only 5 of 16 shots from the field. Guard Gary Browne added another 10, all of which came in the first half.
For the Dukes, reserve guard Jerry Jones led the way with 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Guard Derrick Colter struggled from the field, making only 5 of 16 shots, but finished with 12 points and seven assists. Reserve Marvin Binney added 10 points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting performance.