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Big East 2011 Tournament: West Virginia Ousted By Marquette, 67-61

Early in the second half, Joe Mazzulla, John Flowers and Truck Bryant continued their first half habits. Joe and Truck hit big threes, and JFlow picked up his third foul. The Mountaineers looked sluggish, but still held a firm lead.

In the next segment of play, however, the Mountaineers weren't so lucky, and turnovers and stupid fouls let the Golden Eagles cut the deficit to two after a 7-0 run. This prompted Huggins to put Flowers back in the game, and he made his coach look good, stopping the Marquette run by getting to the line and sinking two free throws.

As in the first half, the Golden Eagles made a mid-half run, spurred up when West Virginia got lulled into taking early shots. In one sequence, Casey Mitchell shot the ball on four straight possessions, netting four points for the 'Eers, but four points the other way as well.

To stop the bleeding, Bob Huggins went with the 1-3-1 and it netted an immediate stop, and the game was tied at the next-to-last media timeout. Both teams struggled to shoot the ball down the stretch, West Virginia going over nine minutes without a field goal. If this game didn't have free throws, it wouldn't have points. However, neither team managed to take the upper hand in a brutal and physical Big East struggle.

As the game crossed the four-minute mark, two John Flowers turnovers led to six straight Marquette points, and the Mountaineers were on the ropes. The 'Eers' nine-minute scoring drought was cut with a John Flowers layup off of the inbounds pass to cut the deficit to four. The Mountaineers could have cut it closer, but after Truck Bryant stole an inbounds pass his layup attempt missed wildly, and that was it. The Golden Eagles closed it out, sealed a trip to the tournament, and outlasted the Mountaineers 67-61. The Mountaineers went through one of their patented scoring slumps, and in the end it cost them. They're still a solid NCAA tournament team, but tonight wasn't pretty, and folks in Morgantown can go back to worrying.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.