Wednesday night in Ames, Iowa started like “One Shining Moment” for Gabe Osabuohien but it ended with the “Tracks of My Tears” for West Virginia, as the Mountainers dropped another winnable contest after having a double-digit lead in the second half.
Osabuohien was all over the court, driving, scoring, stealing, rebounding, and even made his first three-pointer of the season at the end of the first half. In what was his ‘return to form’ game, he ended the game with a team-high 19 points (along with Malik Curry, who also had 19).
The first half was full of good energy, West Virginia played inspired defense and rebounded the ball with intentionality and purpose.
West Virginia led 41-31 heading into the half-time locker room.
The second half was what we have come to expect. Despite a great first half, the Mountaineers let Iowa State come back. The killer instinct disappeared and the scoring droughts returned. Bad passes leading to turnovers and lack of finishing at the rim also was on repeat in this game as well.
With 14:19 to play the Mountaineers led by 12 points. Iowa State immediately answered with back-to-back triples by Gabe Kalscheur and Izaiah Brockington, cutting the lead in half with 13:15 remaining.
Several ties and lead changes later, the game was on the line, WVU leading 81-80. With 22 seconds remaining, Iowa State initiated a full-court press that allowed Brockington to steal a weak inbound pass under the Cyclone basket, make a lay-up, and put Iowa State up for good.
West Virginia had a chance to tie with a second left on the clock as Malik Curry got to the hoop, but couldn’t finish. He appeared to be fouled, but the referees decided he was not worthy of free throws, despite the contact.
Final score - WVU 81, Iowa State 84
Uncharacteristically for this season, West Virginia dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Cyclones 34-23 with a plus-7 offensive rebounding advantage.
Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil were also in double figures for the Mountaineers with 15 and 11 points respectively.
The Mountaineers return to action on Saturday, when they host the Texas Longhorns in Morgantown. Tipoff is set for 2:00PM ET and the game will be broadcast on ESPN2.