The Mountaineers had several chances to seal the game, both in regulation and overtime, but couldn’t secure their second consecutive Big 12 road win until Jaye Crockett missed a fade away three from the corner as time expired. WVU (10-5, 2-0 Big 12) got 25 points from Staten, many on key jumpshots that kept the continually charging Red Raiders at bay for the majority of the game. Staten scored four of WVU’s 12 overtime points and was in position to run the clock solidly inside 15 seconds with the Mountaineers leading 87-83. But the guard, in transition, fed Devin Williams for a lay-in with no trailing defender pressuring him. Williams was fouled and made one of two, leaving Texas Tech with a chance.
The Raiders made the most of it, with Toddrick Gotcher drilling a three-pointer with 10 seconds left. Tech then effectively eliminated WVU’s inbounds pass on multiple tries before the Mountaineers, the beneficiary of some close out of bounds calls along the baseline, got the ball to Gary Browne. Browne was fouled and made one, leaving WVU ahead by the final margin. Texas Tech retook possession with 3.8 seconds left, trying a three-quarter court length pass that wasn’t caught. Williams battled a pair of Tech players for possession, and was ruled the last to touch the ball. That set-up Crockett’s miss to end the game.
“He really should have dribbled the clock out instead of pitching it to Devin,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins told MSN by IMG of Staten’s late-game decision. “Just dribble around and then (Staten) go to the line, and not Devin. He won’t do that again.”
West Virginia defended the last play well, forcing the ball into the corner where Crockett had no option but to toss up the prayer. The shot was long, and Browne grabbed the ball as the clock ran out. The win marked the first time the Mountaineers won back-to-back Big 12 road games and the first time WVU has accomplished consecutive conference road victories since knocking off DePaul and then-No. 13 Georgetown in 2011.
It wasn’t easy. West Virginia floundered multiple chances to make sealing the game significantly easier, but had some physical and mental errors – the most glaring of which was Staten’s technical for taunting that seemed to spark Texas Tech to a late rally to force extra time. WVU also failed to execute defensively on Gotcher’s last three that gave Tech a final shot.
“We knew what they were going to do, a dribble hand off to a ball screen,” Huggins said. “But we fall asleep and he’s open and Gotcher hits that three. Then we can’t get Gary open on the inbounds, and they throw that long pass and get the ball out of bounds under their own basket. I thought about (committing the foul), but it was going to be a foul on a three-point shot. That’s different than somebody bringing the ball up the floor. If we foul, they are shooting three.”
In addition to Staten’s 25 – just three shy of his career high set earlier this season against Duquesne – West Virginia got 18 points from Eron Harris and 16 from Henderson, who made four of six three-pointers after missing 29 of his last 39. Staten made 10 of 12 shots, while adding four rebounds and five assists against two turnovers. Williams had 12 points and played a major role offensively on the interior while fellow frosh frontcourt player Brandon Watkins continued to change shots and regularly affect the opposition around the rim.
West Virginia led by as many as 11 at 44-43 after a Harris three-pointer early in the second half. Tech methodically pulled back into the game, eventually tying the score at 68-68 on a Crockett jumper with 3:555 to play. The forward gave the Raiders their first lead, 71-68, since early in the game on a three-point play two possessions later. Staten, as he did all game, responded with a jumper as the teams traded blows over the final three minutes, Henderson eventually forcing the overtime with a three from the right wing with 17 seconds to play.
Crockett and guard Dusty Hannahs, who caught fire off the bench to score 10 points in less than three minutes “got them going and Gotcher really shot the ball well, too,” Huggins said. “(For us) Eron was not the Eron Harris that we love to watch. He struggled. Fortunately, Terry shot the ball a bit better than he’s been shooting the ball.”
As did the rest of the team. West Virginia hit a sizzling 55.7 percent from the field, the fifth time this season the Mountaineers have shot that well or better. WVU, however, had not hit the mark against a major conference foe until tonight. The Mountaineers – who rank seventh in the NCAA Division I in fewest turnovers – forced 14 while committing just nine, but were outrebounded 35-26.
“I’m elated to get two wins on this road trip,” said Huggins, who evened his career Big 12 coaching mark at 18-18, 8-12 at WVU. “We get to go home for a couple and hopefully we have great support on Saturday (versus No. 11 Oklahoma State) and Monday (against Texas).”
Jordan Tolbert led Texas Tech with 18 points but, like WVU’s Nathan Adrian, fouled out in overtime. Gotcher and Crockett added 17 and 15, respectfully, while Hannahs finished with 14 – almost double his season average. It was Texas Tech’s fourth consecutive loss.