After a longer-than-normal hiatus from the hardwood, West Virginia finally took the court again in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Thursday night. Playing as part of the fan-less Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic, the Mountaineers faced off against the favorites to win the Summit Conference, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits team.
West Virginia rode three backcourt double-digit scoring performances to the win, holding off the Jackrabbits 79-71. Miles McBride led all scorers with 23, Sean McNeil added 16 and Taz Sherman 14.
The first half was close the entire way. The Mountaineers took their biggest lead of the half with 38 second remaining on a Miles McBride jumper. At the half the Mountaineers led 37-32.
WVU didn’t really ever put the Jackrabbits away. The Mountaineers started the second half on a run, extending their lead to 12 on a Sen McNeil jumper with just over 14 minutes to play but the Jackrabbits continued to hang around. They used crisp passing, several back-door passing plays and timely jump-shooting to continually play their way back into it after each West Virginia run.
The Mountaineers finally closed the door in the final minutes, winning 79-71.
On paper, this looked to be a rebounding buffet for the imposing West Virginia front line of Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe. Early foul trouble stifled the board dominance leaving WVU with only a 38-36 rebound advantage for the game. Culver ended the game with 14 rebounds to go with seven points, four blocks, two assists and two steals. Tshiebwe ended with only seven points and three rebounds after battling foul trouble the entire game.
The Mountaineers return to action on Thursday on the ESPN family of networks.