Another Missed Opportunity

Staff Writer
Posted Jan 25, 2014


Nearly two weeks after falling by one to Oklahoma State, West Virginia had a chance at redemption against the Cowboys on Saturday in Stillwater.

It wasn’t to be, as the Mountaineers fell to No. 11 OSU for the second time this season 81-75 in a very similar game in which WVU had its chances down the stretch to pull an upset.

WVU (11-9, 3-4 Big 12 Conference) was within one possession with less than a minute to go. Freshman forward Nathan Adrian missed a three with about 45 seconds to play that would’ve tied the game that went long. Oklahoma State (15-3, 4-2) would win the game at the free-throw line.

WVU sophomore guard Eron Harris, who had been struggling over the last four games to score at a high rate, finished with 21 points. He hit six of his seven threes before fouling out.

The Mountaineers were paced otherwise by junior point guard Juwan Staten, who finished with 19 points, four assists and four rebounds.

Sophomore guard Terry Henderson who had 28 points on Wednesday versus Texas Tech had just eight points against the Cowboys.

Le’Bryan Nash was on top of his game for the second time this season against West Virginia. He scored a career-high 29 points on Saturday and added nine rebounds before fouling out with 1:40 to play. The Mountaineers, which dealt with foul trouble all game long, didn’t have a post player to matchup with Nash.

WVU, however, was able to keep OSU all-American point guard Marcus Smart in check. Smart struggled with foul trouble and didn’t score a point from the field until a little more than five minutes left in the contest. He finished with four points before fouling out and showed much frustration with a stingy Mountaineers defense. It was his second-lowest scoring total of his career and the lowest of the season.

WVU shot 36.8 percent, while the Cowboys made 44.1 percent of their shots. West Virginia, however, kept OSU in check from the outside - something it hadn't be doing over the last month. Oklahoma State was just 4-of-24 from beyond the arc.

West Virginia was able to take an early lead on some hot shooting from Harris. The Mountaineers would lead by six at multiple times in the first 12 minutes of the contest, which was sloppy from the start.

Later on, the Cowboys would tie the game at 26 with a three from guard Stevie Clark and two free throws as Smart was on the bench with two fouls. Smart, who was frustrated after not scoring from the field in the first half, sat the final 7:24 of the half.

WVU had its own foul trouble in the first half, as guard Gary Browne and Adrian picked up three fouls, while Harris, Henderson, forward Kevin Noreen, forward Brandon Watkins and forward Devin Williams had two each. It was so much of an issue that walk-on guard Tyrone Hughes played the final three minutes of the first half.

After a sloppy turnover from Staten, Nash hit a driving layup over Browne and a free throw to give Oklahoma State the lead for the first time at 32-30.

The Cowboys would take a seven-point lead at the half behind two demonstrative dunks by guard Markel Brown and Nash. OSU finished the half on a 25-12 run. After starting 1-of-7, Oklahoma State finished 12-of-22 from the field in the first half.

After the disastrous end to the first half, WVU scored 11 of the first 23 points in the second half – all from Harris to regain the lead at 46-44. Both team’s leading scorers, Harris and Smart, would pick up their third fouls during that stretch. Smart went to the bench again. Harris would stay in and pick up his fourth foul with 15:08 to play.

WVU would take a three-point lead on free throws, but guard Will Forte, III would hit his first three of the game on the following possession to tie it up at 54.

Williams picked up his fourth foul with 7:34 to play, and with him unable to foul again, Nash was able to score eight straight points to give the Cowboys a 68-60 advantage.

Harris would keep the Mountaineers in the game with two tough 3-pointers to make it 70-67, but he would foul out with 3:35 left to play on a layup from Brown. West Virginia wasn’t able to score effectively after that en route to a loss.

WVU out-rebounded Oklahoma State by six but had three more turnovers. In total, West Virginia had 32 fouls. Four players fouled out for the Mountaineers.

Williams had just six points but finished with nine rebounds. He was 2-of-9 from the field.

Outside of Nash, OSU's Brown, Forte, Clark and guard Brandon Williams all scored in double figures.



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