West Virginia put their perfect record on the line, welcoming Rhode Island to the Coliseum Sunday afternoon. The Mountaineers overcame a tremendous effort by Fatts Russell, winning 86-81, moving to 7-0 on the season.
Gabe Osabuohien got his first start as the Mountaineers stumbled out of the gate, turning the ball over six times early in the first half. Derek Culver added 12 points during a 20-5 run as the Mountaineers extended their lead over the Rams, finally going into the half with a 44-33 lead.
Culver paced the Mountaineers with 12 points and seven rebounds in the first half. Emmitt Matthews added 14 points.
WVU had an up and down second half, allowing the scrappy Rams to hang around most of the way.
Last season second half collapses, with no recovery, were the norm. The 2019 version of the Mountaineers have shown grit and determination, overcoming adversity to win multiple games.
Sunday afternoon was no different.
Rhode Island made small runs throughout the second half, eventually tying the game at 60 on a Jeff Dowtin layup.
West Virginia would eventually go back up 7, only to relinquish the lead, allowing Rhody to come as close as one point, 82-81, on a Cyril Langevine layup with 34 seconds to go in the game.
A Jermaine Haley layup, a pair of Jordan McCabe free throws and a Rhode Island turnover would seal the game for Bob Huggins squad, making the final score 86-81.
Derek Culver led the Mountaineers with a career-high 25 points and Haley added 15. Emmitt Matthews Jr. scored 14 in the first half but was held scoreless in the second half.
Fatts Russell led the way for Rhode Island scoring 32 points and adding five assists and five steals.
West Virginia returns to action next Saturday, when they take on St. John’s at Madison Square Garden. That game tips off at Noon ET and will televised on FS1.