De Paul West Virginia Basketball

West Virginia’s Joe Alexander (11) drives to the basket by De Paul’s Marcus Heard (21) and Cliff Clinkscales (12) during the first half in Morgantown Sunday. Alexander scored a career-high 23 points in WVU’s 64-52 win.

Sophomores Joe Alexander and Alex Ruoff led the way Sunday afternoon as West Virginia defeated DePaul, 64-52, at the Coliseum.

Alexander, 6-8 forward, scored a career-high 23 points and pulled down six rebounds on 9-for-12 shooting. His nine field goals also are a personal best.

Ruoff, 6-6 guard, tallied 12 points and a game-high seven assists. And, like Alexander, he turned the ball over just twice.

Frank Young, 6-5 senior forward, was dogged defensively all afternoon and held to just eight points — 6.8 below his average. He had five rebounds.

A crowd of 11,239 saw the Mountaineers make their home record 11-0 by winning this first-ever Big East game between the two schools.

WVU now is 16-4 overall and 5-3 in the conference. The Blue Demons dropped to 12-10 and 3-5.

“This was a great win because DePaul is a tough out,” Coach John Beilein said. “It was one of those grind-it-out type of games.

“It went back and forth. But we were the home team, so we made more shots (late in the game).

While WVU led from start to finish, DePaul trailed by just three points at 45-42 and then 47-44 with 8:24 left in the contest.

But all of a sudden the Mountaineers exploded for a 14-4 run, which matched their largest lead of the game. That came at 61-48 on Alexander’s three-point play with just 1:30 to go.

DePaul Coach Jerry Wainwright said, “The back-breaking basket that Joe Alexander made was a hard shot to make. I think he was the difference in the game.

“I thought our guys did a really good job. I don’t know that I’ve ever lost a game by 12 when we were shooting 51 percent and had only 11 turnovers.”

Forward Wilson Chandler paced the Blue Demons with 11 points and guard Sammy Mejia chipped in 10.

WVU shot 51.9 percent in the first half and only 45.7 percent for the game. DePaul hit 55.0 percent in the first half, but trailed by 37-26 at intermission.

The Mountaineers managed a 28-22 margin in rebounds and committed 10 turnovers.

WVU’s biggest lead in the first half was 12 points at 33-21. Alexander’s basket made it 39-26 as the second half opened.

However, the Mountaineers then turned as frigid as the outdoors and went 10:37 without a field goal. Freshman Da’Sean Butler finally snapped the cold spell.

His field goal made the score 47-42 with 8:50 remaining, and that triggered the game-winning 14-4 surge.

“I think that’s becoming a characteristic of this team,” Alexander said. “People start recognizing that now is the time to step up.

“They were giving us a lot of lanes, and we took advantage of that.”

Young said, “We were playing great man-to-man defense. Then we just started knocking down shots. We played some zone in the first half.”

Guard Darris Nichols, who had seven points, four rebounds and two assists, noted that the Mountaineers have played more aggressively recently.

“As the point guard, when my shots aren’t falling I try to do the little things to help,” he said. “You need something to fall back on.”

Beilein thinks this triumph was a step in the right direction, getting another Big East win in the Coliseum.

“I’m extremely pleased that we have 16 wins are now 5-3 in the Big East,” he said. “It’s important to win at home.”

Beilein believes his young players are becoming more comfortable in believing that they can win games down the stretch.

WVU now will resume its search of a first Big East victory on the road. They visit Rutgers on Wednesday and Seton Hall on Saturday.

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