West Virginia started strong in the Cancun challenge, faltered down the stretch but were able to pull out the win against Northern Colorado thanks to a great night by Jermaine Haley.
Back-to-back three pointers from Emmitt Matthews and Haley early the first half, combined with a pair of Taz Sherman got WVU off to a strong start. From there, the Mountaineers raced out to a 17-point lead, only to seemingly forget how to play defense the the last ten minutes of the first half.
WVU carried a 40-30 lead into the locker room at half time.
The second half saw similar woes for the Mountaineers, fully surrendering their lead to the Bears at the 6:18 mark, 54-54 after a 14-2 Northern Colorado run.
The Mountaineers were able to rally after a timeout, going on an 8-0 run before the under four minute timeout.
The final score was WVU 69, Northern Colorado 61.
Derek Culver didn’t enter this game until around the 15 minute mark after spending the first 25 minutes seemingly in Bob Huggins doghouse.
Culver provided a spark underneath, finishing the game with 13 points, five rebounds, an assist and a block in less than 15 minutes of work. Culver has been notably improved from the free throw line, going 7 for 8 on the evening. Culver has only missed on free throw this season.
The Mountaineers survived a scare as Emmitt Matthew went down with an apparent knee injury late in the first half. Extent of his injury are not known but he did see action in the second half.
Player of the game honors go to Haley who was the leader with 18 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.
Bodie Hume led Northern Colorado with 18 points.
The Mountaineers return to action in the Cancun Classic Friday at 7pm against Boston University.