The West Virginia Mountaineers men's basketball team beat Old Dominion 78-60 in the semifinals of the Cancun Challenge in Cancun, Mexico to advance to the tournament finals. It was the type of slow, steady thumping Mountaineer fans didn't see much of last year as WVU jumped to an early lead, built a 36-24 halftime lead and then steadily increased the margin to as much as 25 before coasting home for the 18 point win.
Outside shooting was key for WVU as 5 different Mountaineers connected from downtown and the team shot 40% from long range overall (8/10) as well as 56% overall from the floor (28/50). Eron Harris led the way with 19 points on 7 of 10 shooting (including 3 of 5 from 3-point range) and Terry Henderson provided a spark off the bench with 14 points on 5 of 11 shooting (1/6 from 3).
The engine that made this blue and gold machine run however, was Juwan Staten. The junior guard was masterful, scoring 13 points on 5 of 7 shooting, including a make of the only 3 point shot he took - just his second of the season. He also dished 9 assists while having only one turnover - and that was primarily the fault of an errant Devin Williams pass that hit Staten's leg and went out of bounds.
WVU scoring was well-balanced with forward Devin Williams providing 12 points on 6/10 shooting, Remi Debo scoring 7 going 3 of 5 (1/2 from 3) and freshman Nathan Adrian contributing 6 points making 2 three pointers in 5 attempts - all his shots were from 3. Kevin Noreen added 3 and Gary Browne added 4.
Free throw shooting wasn't a horrible liability (which is an improvement) as they went 14 of 22 from the line for 64%, but amazingly WVU found an opponent in ODU that was worse from the charity stripe as the Monarchs were a horrid 9 of 22 for 41%.
WVU will play the winner of St. Louis and Wisconsin in the Cancun Challenge Championship game tomorrow at 9:30 PM.