It’s a rare occurrence for the West Virginia Mountaineers (0-1) to lose their first game of the sesaon. In fact, you’d have to go all the way back to 2003-04 season when John Belien’s squad fell to Northeastern to find another home opening loss. It took nearly 15 years for the Mountaineers to drop another one on opening night in the WVU Coliseum, this time in a 99-94 overtime loss to a Buffalo Bulls team that is destined for the NCAA tournament again.
West Virginia struggled to work together as a cohesive unit for large portion of the game, showing their lack of experienced players in the backcourt and leading to nineteen Mountaineer turnovers.
Despite the turnovers and struggles, the Mountaineers led for all but nine minutes total and a few key highlights shined through the mess.
For starters, Sagaba Konate has a wet ass three-point jumper now and we should all stop and prepare ourselves to enjoy what will be Konate’s last season in Morgantown. With his newfound ability from beyond the arc, Konate is most likely on his way to top 15-20 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Sags finished with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting (3-of-4 3PT), 7 rebounds and 3 blocks all while playing on a knee that is currently less than 100%.
Beetle Bolden played through his wrist/hand injury, and also finished up 6-of-9 from the field (3-of-4 3PT) and 6-of-8 from the charity stripe for 21 points before suffering an apparent ankle/leg injury late in the game and being forced to the bench.
Lamont West led all scorers with 22 points and 9 rebounds, and Esa Ahmad contributed 15 points of his own.
As for the Buffalo Bulls, they’ve got a superstar on their hands in CJ Massinburg. The Mountaineers didn’t have an answer for the senior guard from Dallas, Texas, and it ultimately did them in when Massinburg drained an absurd three pointer to tie the game at 84-84 with just 16 seconds left in regulation. Massinburg put West Virginia away in overtime, accounting for 9 of Buffalo’s 15 overtime points, and finished with a career high 43 points and 14 rebounds.
The Mountaineers will have an opportunity to bounce back next Thursday evening at 7:00PM when they take on the Monmouth Hawks in Conway, South Carolina as part of the Myrtle Beach Invitational. That game will be broadcast on ESPNU.