TJ McConnell's deep three rattled off the rim and was pulled in by John Flowers as the buzzer expired, and the Mountaineers outlasted the Duquesne Dukes for a 64-61 victory.
After an atrocious first half the Mountianeers went to work chipping away at the lead in the early minutes of the second half and had the lead whittled away by the half's mid-way point. At that point, the game flip flopped back and forth into the final minutes as neither team could take a decisive hold on momentum.
MVPs for the Mountaineers tonight are easily John Flowers and Jonnie West. Flowers had his moments offensively, but made his greatest contribution on the defensive end. Flow had three big blocks in the game's waning minutes that erased scoring opportunities for the Dukes and kept the momentum in the Mountaineers favor.
Jonnie West provided an offensive spark off of the bench dropping ten on the Dukes and made up for Casey Mitchell's disappearing act. While it's refreshing to see Jonnie get his minute in the sun, it's completely perplexing to see Mitchell fall out of favor and waste away on the bench. This kid was draining thirty on the regular earlier in the season and now is a complete non-factor. Kevin Jones missed a double double by one rebound but finished with fifteen points. He seems to slowly be finding his rhythm. Most importantly there seemed to be offensive plays run specifically for KJ and he collected plenty of easy buckets down low. Cam Thoroughman provided a physical spark for the Mountaineers, playing an unheard of thirty-four minutes.
In general though, it was an ugly and discomforting affair for Mountaineer fans. This team lacks and nucleus. While Bryant and Jones continue to play consistently, Huggins can't string two good games together out of the rest of him team and seems to be grasping at straws when he substitutes. I fully expect next Saturday's game to feature a different starting five and different players to play a bigger role.
The Mountaineers have big issues, and they'd better figure them out fast. Squeaking by the Duquesne Dukes in front of fifteen fans in an empty hockey arena doesn't bode well for going on the road in the Big East.
The Mountaineers are off most of the week for finals week. They next take the court against Cleveland State next Saturday at the Coliseum.