The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

March 8, 2012

WVU eliminated in NYC by Connecticut

NEW YORK — If you can remember the Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day,” then you know exactly how Bob Huggins feels about his team’s final season in the Big East.

It has been the same game, over and over and over … get a lead, squander it, lose and say you hope you learn from it.

Only this time there is no tomorrow.

For the second time this season Connecticut faced a double-digit deficit against West Virginia University, battled back in and stole away the game, eliminating the Mountaineers from their final Big East Tournament, 71-67, in overtime on Wednesday in Madison Square Garden.

And to say they stole the game away is not in any way to misstate it.

With WVU leading 63-54 with 3:57 to go, guard Shabazz Napier stole everything but Bob Huggins’ parking place at the Coliseum. First he hit a 3-point shot, then two free throws, then stole the ball and scored on a layup and then stole the ball away and scored a layup to tie the score.

“They took the ball right out of our hands,” said Kevin Jones, whose final Big East Tournament game was a big one with 25 points and 10 rebounds, but who could do nothing down the stretch as the Huskies employed the strategy of moving a big man onto Jones.

It was an incredible performance by Napier and – well, the same old story for WVU, which somehow managed to play six overtime games this season and squandered double-figure leads in the second half double figure times.

“I thought Shabazz was close to magnificent,” UConn coach Jim Calhoun said after the game, Napier finishing with 26 points, six assists, three blocks and three steals, including the two at the end that turned the game.

Napier also slowed down Truck Bryant at key moments in the game, Bryant finishing with 20 points but hitting only 4 of 14 field goals.

“I think Bryant had a very difficult time,” Calhoun said. “Shabazz did an incredible job on him. We all did a good job of switching because at times Shabazz was just great. He wasn’t good defensively. He was great. Bryant is a hell of a player.”

Jones still seemed somewhat shocked by it all when it was over.

“Just a little disbelief, disappointment,” he said. “My team played their hardest. We didn’t make the correct decisions at the end. We didn’t hold onto the ball. They stole it, two turnovers for layups that they really didn’t earn.”

Call it, if you must, freshman mistakes for Gary Browne and Jabarie Hinds were involved and it did detract from the so many good things they had done to help WVU get the lead … but then that’s the theme of this whole thing.

It keeps happening over and over.

Jones would look at his freshman teammates as UConn turned up the pressure and began coming back, and he saw a look he’d seen all year in the same situation.

“A little panic was on their faces,” he said. “It was like ‘Oh, no, here we go again.’”

“The freshmen just did not know how to react,” Bryant said. “We gave the game away.”

Over the final 5:34 WVU was outscored 13-6, none of the six points being Jones’ as UConn completely took him out of the game. His last points came at 6:18 on two free throws, his last basket at 8:36, and that was goaltending call.

“They made a key emphasis of finding where I was,” said Jones, who had dominated until the middle of the second half. “They also put Andre Drummond on me. But I have to demand the ball.”

The Mountaineers nearly lost in regulation and Napier got a pretty good look at a 3 as time ran out but missed it, Dominique Rutledge taking care of the rebound to make sure there was no tip.

But overtime found WVU overmatched. The Mountaineers scored two points, both free throws by Bryant.

No field goals. They took 11 shots, three of them layups.

Now the wait begins. Sunday night they will find out if they have done enough to get into the NCAA Tournament.

Bob Huggins believes they have.

He’s said so every day … but that’s how it is when you live in a “Groundhog Day” world.

Email Bob Hertzel at Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.

Text Only
WVU Sports
  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

  • WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI

    There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.

    April 15, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN- Most plays good, some not so good in Gold-Blue scrimmage

    There appeared to be a fine mixture of plays, most good with some not so good, in last Saturday’s West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue football scrimmage.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Garrison still proving he can carry the ball

    The running back raves from the West Virginia coaching this spring have been directly mostly toward Wendell Smallwood, and rest assured he earned every one of them with his versatility, but it was a reborn running back who well may have taken the biggest jump up the depth chart.

    April 14, 2014

  • WVU baseball drops seventh straight game

    One’s athletic skills are tested on a daily basis but every so often other aspects of an athlete’s makeup are tested, often far more important aspects in the game of life.

    April 14, 2014

  • Gold-Blue Game answers few questions at quarterback

    Dana Holgorsen finds himself in a quarterback quandary.
    He’s looking to have one quarterback and has five of them as spring practice ends, and nothing about the spring session has done anything to straighten out the situation.

    April 13, 2014

  • Moore ‘back at home’ under center

    There are a couple of ways to look at what Logan Moore did this spring after being moved back to quarterback and given a chance to compete for what is a wide open job, as wide open at the end of the spring as it was coming in.
    The first is to say that he didn’t wow Dana Holgorsen to the point that he’s willing to say he’s the leader going into summer drills, but that would be shortsighted considering from where Moore came.

    April 13, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos