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West Virginia Survives Bucknell’s Charge 86-80

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Despite a fingernail biting final ten minutes, West Virginia will advance.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Bucknell vs West Virginia Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

This game, much like every West Virginia game, was a tale of two halves. During the first half, Bucknell looked like a team that was surprised by a bigger, faster, stronger team and it showed. West Virginia jumped out to a 27-14 lead following a 13-2 run early in the game. As the game progressed, Bucknell found their rhythm and survived. West Virginia would take a 42-33 lead into halftime. The Mountaineers depth was showing as it scored 20 points in the first half. The Mountaineers as a team shot 47% from the field.

As the second half began, West Virginia could never put away the Bison. Bucknell’s best player, Nana Foulland continued to dominate. He made basket after basket underneath the rim and kept the Bison in the game. Sophomore Kimbal Mackenzie tied a Bucknell team record with 23 points in the NCAA tournament. Bucknell, who was cold to start the game, began to heat up. They were 4/6 from downtown halfway through the second half. Eventually though, the Mountaineers aggressiveness would put Foulland in foul trouble. With 9:37 left in the second half, Foulland collected his fourth foul and West Virginia clinging to a 5 point lead.

The Mountaineers failed to capitalize on the opportunity and wasted four minutes of Foulland-less ball. When Foulland re-entered the game at just under the 5-minute mark, Esa Ahmad was at the foul line and gave the Mountaineers a 7-point lead.

As the back and fourth continued and both teams in foul trouble, the game opened up. The Mountaineers were never able to pull away comfortably but they also never were in danger. Eventually, the Bison were left with no other option and had to foul to extend the game. Tarik Phillip showed serious calm as he continued to drain free throws at the end of the game, making the Bison more and more desperate.

Notes:

West Virginia shot 45.5% from the three-point line. Bucknell shot 45%.

WVU lost the turnover battle, 13-15.

The Mountaineers out-rebounded the Bison 42-33.

Kimbal Mackenzie led all scorers with 23 points. Nana Foulland and Stephen Brown each had 18.

Five Mountaineers scored in double figures with Tarik Phillip’s leading the team. Phillip finished a perfect 7-7 at the charity stripe.

West Virginia will face the Fighting Irish in the Round of 32. Notre Dame defeated Princeton 60-58. Gonzaga stomped San Diego State University 66-46 and will play the winner of Vanderbilt-Northwestern.