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Marshall earns second home win over ODU, 74-66

— By David Walsh

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The Marshall University men’s basketball team started bonus play in Conference USA the way it wanted to Saturday night.

The Thundering Herd had five players reach double figures and it used a late run to get past Old Dominion, 74-66, in front of 5,916 fans at Cam Henderson Center.

Marshall, with its second home win over the Monarchs this season, improved .500 overall (14-14) and got a game over .500 (8-7) in C-USA. Marshall is in Pod No. 2.

“The ball is distributed by how they play defense,” Herd coach Dan D’Antoni said in how the team finished with five in double figures. “Defense determines who shoots. The threes push the defense out, then it flips and we attack the rim.”

Old Dominion took a 55-52 lead at the 11:20 mark of the second half before Marshall went on an 11-0 run to take a 63-55 advantage with 4:56 to play. The Monarchs answered right back with a 5-0 run of their own, cutting the deficit down to 63-60 with 3:17 remaining in regulation. The Thundering Herd again answered, this time with a 6-0 run to make it 69-60 with 2:14 left — and that was it.

“We got off to a good start tonight,” Marshall guard Jarrod West said. “It’s a tough last stretch. This is big for us. We had a lot of defensive intensity. We moved the ball and made shots. We clicked tonight.”

West led Marshall with 18 points. Jannson Williams, Iran Bennett and Taevion Kinsey each had 14 and Andrew Taylor 10. Williams also pulled down 13 rebounds for double-double before he fouled out late.

Bennett, who is 6-foot-9, had five of Marshall’s 11 blocked shots. The Herd is No. 2 in C-USA in that category with 169. West had three steals to bring his league-leading total to 61.

“People realize we’re very long and athletic,” Williams said. “It’s tough to score points on us in the paint. The way our offense ran is what we’ve been looking for.”

Having Bennett go the distance is vital for the Herd. When he gets in early foul trouble, it causes problems.

“When he plays freely, he’s OK,” D’Antoni said. “If he starts tiptoeing, we’re in trouble.”

Marshall’s next game is Thursday at UAB. The Blazers won 61-50 on Jan. 11 in Birmingham, Ala. Tip is 8 p.m.

Malik Curry led Old Dominion with 24 points. Xavier Green added 15 and Joe Reece had 14. Aaron Carver totaled a game-high 17 rebounds.

“I couldn’t have asked anymore from our guys in terms of effort, I thought we really, really competed,” Old Dominion coach Jeff Jones said. “I thought we did a terrific job defensively, it just came down to a stretch late in the second half, when both teams were struggling to score and I think we blinked first. There were some real poor decisions in regards to shot selection on our part. Marshall was able to get some timely buckets.”

Marshall’s bench had just four points and that didn’t surprise Jones. Herd starters delivered most of the night.

“Essentially the same team we saw the first time, just better,” Jones said. “They rotate bodies in and it makes it tough on us. You know what you’re going to get from West and Kinsey. They’ll be a force to reckon with. The contrast between bench and starter is more blurry for them than it is for most of us. They put those guys in and they aren’t afraid to make those threes. They took what was there. Everybody kind of chipped in.”

The overall series is now tied 11-11.

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Williamstown rolls by Webster County to win LKC title game

Greg Carey/WVMetroNews.com

Williamstown’s Sam Cremeans scored a game-high 25 points in a win over Webster County.

 

GLENVILLE, W.Va. — Williamstown’s perimeter play allowed the Yellowjackets to bounce back from their first loss of the season with a Little Kanawha Conference championship Saturday against Webster County.

The Yellowjackets made 14 three-pointers, including nine in the opening half as they never trailed in a 78-54 victory over the Highlanders at Glenville State’s Waco Center.

“We always talk about shot selection,” Yellowjackets’ head coach Scott Sauro said. “Those kids are doing a pretty good job of choosing when to take those shots, and when not to and that’s a big key to have good percentages.”

Senior guard Peyton Amrine made seven triples and scored 23 points, while teammate Sam Cremeans led all players with 25 points and made three shots from behind the arc.

Xavier Caruthers made the other four three-pointers and added 12 points to give Williamstown (21-1) a third double figure scorer.

It was a strong performance for the Yellowjackets four days after they suffered their first loss of the season to Fort Frye (Ohio), 56-53.

“It was workmanlike. Peyton got hot, Sam got hot and that helped us a lot,” Sauro said. “The key is to have that balance between our interior game and perimeter game. Our interior game can be just throwing it inside to a big guy or just dribble penetration.” 

Amrine connected on four triples in the opening quarter, the second of which gave the Yellowjackets a 12-2 lead. Although the Highlanders put together a strong stretch soon after and got to within 15-10 on a Kadin Wright three, Amrine finished the first-quarter scoring with his fourth triple to make it 23-13.

The Yellowjackets led by as many as 16 on two different occasions in the second quarter — following threes from Amrine and Cremeans, respectively — but Webster County (14-8) strung together enough offense to trail 41-28 at halftime.

Cremeans made a three and two free throws to score the first five points of the second half, and Caruthers followed with a three to make it 49-28.

The Highlanders closed the quarter on an 8-3 run to face a 59-44 deficit entering the fourth, but got no closer than 12 over the final period.

Leading 61-49, Williamstown scored the next 10 points to put the game out of reach.

“We couldn’t get a run and everytime they’d hit a three and it takes the wind out of the kids sometimes,” Highlanders’ head coach Michael Gray said. “We played pretty well. We had some shots we could’ve hit that would’ve helped us get over the hump at times. It’s a game of runs and we needed that run.” 

Colten Luther added nine points and a game-best 12 rebounds in the win.

Rye Gadd led the Highlanders with 18 points, while Wright scored 12 and William Lewis added 10 in defeat.

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GW uses balanced attack to claim MSAC title over Cabell Midland, 65-53

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Four Patriots scored in double figures as George Washington claimed the Mountain State Athletic Conference title with a 65-53 win over Cabell Midland. GW has handed the Knights two of their three defeats this season.

“Some people tell us a conference championship is no big deal. I have never believed that,” said George Washington head coach Rick Greene. “You have to be very consistent to get here. You have had to win on the road most likely to get here. And then when this game comes, you have to be ready to play.”

Indeed, the Patriots (14-5) were ready to play. They never trailed in the contest and used a 7-0 run early in the first quarter to take a lead they would not relinquish. The Patriots led 19-12 after the first quarter and extended that lead to 34-21 at halftime.

The Knights used an 11-2 run midway through the third quarter to creep within five points at 39-34. However, the Patriots opened the fourth quarter on an 8-0 burst and they led by double digits the rest of the way.

Mason Pinkett led GW with 15 points. Alex Yokum scored 12. Jack Ingold added 11 and William Gabbert chipped in with 10.

“If Mason Pinkett is on another team, he could average 30. But he makes everybody better. I really appreciate that in him and the other kids are just as unselfish.”

Cabell Midland (18-3) was led by Dominic Schmidt’s 18-point effort. Chandler Schmidt scored 15 points and Palmer Riggio added 10.

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WVU pitcher Bergert strikes out 14 in win over St. Joseph’s

From WVU Sports Information

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – Sophomore right-hander Ryan Bergert struck out a career-high 14 batters in 8 innings of work in the West Virginia’s 5-1 win over Saint Joseph’s on Saturday afternoon at the Brittain Resorts Invitational.

The strikeout total was the most by a Mountaineer pitcher since Nick Snyder punched out 16 on April 30, 2019, against Marshall. Bergert allowed just one run on two hits in his impressive outing, conceding just one walk and a hit batter.

“He gets better on the field because of what he does off the field,” WVU coach Randy Mazey said of Bergert. “He’s the guy that gets the most sleep, he eats the best, he works out the best, he does really well in school, so, that translates.

“You can’t be an overachiever off the field and be an underachiever on the field, and he’s just an overachiever all the way around. That’s why he’s gotten better.”

West Virginia scored five runs on five hits, while St. Joe’s tallied one run on three hits. With the win, the Mountaineers have won four consecutive games.

WVU (5-1) opened the scoring in the top of the second inning with a solo home run off the bat of junior catcher Paul McIntosh to make it 1-0. From there, the Mountaineers added on in the fourth inning when freshman catcher/infielder Matt McCormick doubled down the left-field line, scoring junior infielder Tyler Doanes. The speedy second baseman began the inning with a leadoff triple.

Bergert, meanwhile, didn’t allow a hit until the bottom of the fifth inning. He went on to hold the Hawks (2-4) off the scoreboard in seven of his eight frames. The Canton, Ohio, native struck out the side in the first inning and retired the St. Joseph’s offense in order four times.

St. Joe’s was able to make it a one-run game in the bottom of the seventh with a solo homer to right. That made it 2-1.

From there, the Hawks got the tying run to second base with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, before Bergert finished his day with a pair of strikeouts.

West Virginia added three insurance runs in the top of the ninth, thanks to McIntosh’s RBI fielder’s choice and a sacrifice bunt off the bat of senior infielder Kevin Brophy, which scored two runs to make it 5-1.

“Kevin has been around for a long time – he’s just a Mountaineer,” Mazey said. “He’ll do whatever it takes for us to win games.

“So far in his season year, he’s really taken on a leadership role, trying to teach younger guys. There is no guy I’d rather have at the plate with a game on the line when it comes to being unselfish.”

With the four-run advantage, sophomore right-handed pitcher Zach Ottinger closed out the game with a scoreless ninth inning.

Doanes and McCormick each finished with a pair of hits on the day, while McIntosh registered two RBIs in the victory.

The Mountaineers conclude the Brittain Resorts Invitational with two games on Sunday.

First, WVU takes on Illinois at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark in Myrtle Beach at 10 a.m., before the squad travels to nearby Conway, South Carolina, for a 4 p.m., contest at Coastal Carolina.

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Second half surge lifts Parkersburg to MSAC title, 61-46 over GW

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Parkersburg defeated George Washington 61-46 in the MSAC Championship Game.

George Washington (13-9):

Kalissa Lacy – 28 points

Parkersburg (17-5):

Aleea Crites – 14 points

Bre Wilson – 13 points

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Following disastrous TCU loss, West Virginia season reaches tipping point

COMMENTARY

When West Virginia recently dropped three straight games, the hope was that it was a temporary lull accelerated by a tough schedule.

No one is beating Kansas and Baylor in back-to-back games this season, with a split being the best thing that even a very good team could ask for. The loss that started the streak at Oklahoma was ugly, but not an unexpected hiccup against a team that needed a signature victory to solidify its tournament resume.

With Saturday’s horrendous loss at TCU, West Virginia showed its losing streak was no lull, and its inability to win on the road no coincidence. This season has officially reached its tipping point, with the final four regular-season games left to determine which way this seesaw will swing in March.

Bob Huggins was a man without answers after losing to a team the Mountaineers spanked by 32 points just over a month ago. At one point during his postgame radio interview, he just let out a long, loud exhale that said more than any words could.

Huggins did also have words, and they were depressing.

“I don’t know what to do,” he said. “I’m incredibly frustrated.”

“We’ve lost to the bottom part of the league. You can’t do that. You just can’t do that. I really thought this could be a special year that all West Virginians could rally around. Maybe it still can be.”

It certainly isn’t feeling that way. For now, the TCU loss is the undisputed low point of this season, though it’s possible rock-bottom has not yet been reached.

The Horned Frogs have been playing in Zombie Mode for awhile, entering Saturday with seven losses in eight games. And it’s not as if the Mountaineers ran into an intimidating home crowd. At one point in the first half, chants of “Let’s Go Mountaineers!” could be heard ringing through the lifeless atmosphere of Schollmaier Arena.

At that juncture West Virginia had a 25-15 lead, and would have delivered a knockout blow with a strong finish to the first half.

Instead, WVU’s unsightly offense made two field goals in its next 15 possessions, with the last basket being a Jordan McCabe lob pass that was so wildly inaccurate it somehow deflected off the glass hard enough to fall back down through the hoop.

If other teams are as successful as TCU was in erasing Oscar Tshiebwe from West Virginia’s offense, this season will continue going downhill in a hurry. There is very little to bail the Mountaineers out if he and Derek Culver aren’t both on top of their games.

Taz Sherman is the only legitimate outside threat on a team that is now 29 percent from three-point range.

Just how bad is that? If West Virginia played in the Big South — rated as the No. 30 conference out of 32 nationally — it would be the worst three-point shooting team in that league.

With the regular-season winding towards its conclusion, this team’s limitations are obvious. It’s up to Huggins to find ways to win despite them, or this year will be remembered for being special in the wrong way.

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Big O-fer: Tshiebwe’s poor game sets tone in brutal WVU loss at TCU

Oscar Tshiebwe played the worst game of his young West Virginia career and several of his teammates shared in the struggle as the 17th-ranked Mountaineers continued to play inept basketball on the road in a 67-60 overtime loss at TCU.

West Virginia (19-8, 7-7 Big 12) destroyed the Horned Frogs by 32 points when the teams played in Morgantown last month, sending TCU into a downward spiral.

The Frogs (15-12, 6-8) entered Saturday having lost seven of their past eight games, but it turned out hosting the Mountaineers was the perfect solution for their woes. West Virginia is now 1-15 on the road in the Big 12 since the start of last season.

“This is a game we should have won,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said in his postgame radio interview. “I’m tired of saying it and tired of watching it. It’s frustrating.”

TCU center Kevin Samuel, a non-factor in his team’s 81-49 loss in Morgantown, led the way with 19 points and eight rebounds. He also dominated defensively with five blocked shots.

Samuel, guarded by Tshiebwe during Tshiebwe’s 15 minutes on the floor, was a perfect 7 of 7 from the field.

“If one of the bigs don’t guard anybody and his man goes 7-for-7, why play him?” Huggins asked.

Horned Frogs guard Desmond Bane, the Big 12’s leading scorer, instead played distributor with 10 assists. TCU finished with nine assists as a team when it lost at WVU Coliseum on Jan. 14.

Guard RJ Nembhard, who added 16 points, was one of the primary beneficiaries of Bane’s generosity.

Meanwhile, West Virginia’s offense got almost nothing from Tshiebwe, who has been the favorite to be the Big 12’s freshman of the year for most of the season.

Tshiebwe was held scoreless until making one of two free throws with 1:05 left in regulation. It was the lone point for Tshiebwe, who was also uncharacteristically quiet under the backboard with five rebounds. He finished 0-for-2 from the field.

Tshiebwe’s struggles might have been a footnote if West Virginia’s guards were able to pick up his slack. They did not.

Saturday was the cherry on top of a terrible season of three-point shooting, with West Virginia going 2 of 17 (12 percent) from downtown.

Already trending to be the worst three-point team of Huggins’ coaching career, the Mountaineers have dipped all the way down to 29 percent. Only 18 teams in the country are shooting worse, and seven of them are in the SWAC or MEAC — two leagues that regularly produce 16-seeds in the NCAA tournament.

Taz Sherman was the only Mountaineer to make a three, going 2 of 5 from outside on his way to 16 points. Derek Culver, who came off the bench with Huggins starting a smaller lineup for the second straight game, led West Virginia with 18 points.

The Mountaineers looked in complete control, building a 10-point lead with 3 minutes left in the first half. But TCU ended the half on an 8-0 run, setting the stage for a back-and-forth second half.

The Horned Frogs didn’t make a field goal for the final 4:59 of regulation, but West Virginia failed to take advantage on multiple occasions. Miles McBride could have tied the game at 51 with a conventional three-point play, but missed the free throw.

On the next possession, Sean McNeil sent a pass intended for Tshiebwe in the post out of bounds.

The possession after that, Culver missed a pair of free throws.

Sherman had a potential go-ahead jumper with 6 seconds left in regulation, but it was off the mark and corraled by Bane, who had a fast-break opportunity at the other end. The Mountaineers appeared lucky to reach overtime, with Bane’s potential go-ahead layup waved off by referee John Higgins, who called him for an offensive foul.

West Virginia failed to take advantage of its new lease on life, with a shot clock violation on the first possession of overtime successfully setting the tone for all that followed.

TCU built a six-point lead before Sherman drained a three to make it 63-60 with 1:09 left.

West Virginia got the stop it needed on the other end and forced a miss on the following possession. But 6-5 TCU guard Jaire Grayer grabbed an offensive rebound to keep the possession alive, then found Samuel for a layup that effectively sealed the game with 28 seconds left.

Next up

West Virginia visits Texas (16-11, 6-8) for a 7 p.m. tip on Monday night.

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Annual WV Scholar program now open to high school juniors

BUCKHANNON, W.Va. — The period for any high school junior in West Virginia to apply for a four-year full-ride scholarship to West Virginia Wesleyan College has opened.

Students have through April 17 to apply for the 13th annual West Virginia Scholar Program. The full ride to the Buckhannon institution is valued at approximately $160,000.

W.Va. Wesleyan Vice President of Enrollment Management John Waltz recently appeared on MetroNews ‘Talkline’ and said the school is looking for numerous qualities from a candidate.

“Community service, community engagement, people that are leaders in athletics and the arts and other areas. Those qualities make a well-rounded picture of a student and that’s what we are looking for,” he said.

“A lot of the students that apply have similar grades, really strong grades, and come from different parts of the state. The separator tends to be their story and qualities.”

The scholarship will be awarded for four consecutive years and will terminate at the end of the fourth consecutive school year. The second prize is a four-year $5,000 scholarship and third prize is a four-year $2,500 scholarship to West Virginia Wesleyan College beginning with the 2021 fall semester.

To apply, visit wvmetronews.com or wvscholar.com. Applicants provide an essay, a transcript, and any test score information. Finalist details will be available on May 22.

Joining West Virginia Wesleyan and MetroNews as sponsors are the West Virginia Hospital Association, ZMM Architects & Engineers, West Virginia Farm Bureau, Friends of Coal, and RCB Wealth Management.

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Photo gallery: Martinsburg sweeps regular season series from Hedgesville, 48-42

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. — Photos from Martinsburg’s 48-42 win at Hedgesville. The win clinched the Eastern Panhandle Athletic Conference title for the Bulldogs.

(Photos courtesy of Christopher C. Davis/@EP_BigCameraGuy)

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2 mobile homes completed in Clay County as RISE efforts continue

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The number of homes completed as part of the RISE West Virginia program went to 126 this week after crews completed work on two mobile home units in Clay County.

The West Virginia National Guard noted Friday there are 86 homes in the active construction phase; seven projects are mobile home replacements, 71 are active reconstruction projects, one effort is rehabilitation and ten others are in the demolition stage.

RISE West Virginia is currently covering 386 cases. Forty-seven cases are awaiting initial project type or undergoing damage assessment.

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