Mountaineers Fall in Backyard Brawl

MORGANTOWN,WV—Home court advantage didn’t help the Mountaineer men’s basketball team in the Backyard Brawl. The Pitt Panthers used three pointers to end WVU’s six game winning streak, 80-63 at the Coliseum Wednesday night.  Pitt’s last win in the backyard brawl series was January 30, 2012 in Morgantown. Jamie Dixon was still coaching the Panthers. Since resumption of the series in 2017, the Mountaineers have won five times, including last year’s crushing win in Pittsburgh 81-56 under Bob Huggins.

Pitt’s Blake Hinson had a game high 29 points, 26 of those came from 3 point range. “I was worried about Blake Hinson, and he came out ready to play,” West Virginia interim coach Josh Eilert said. “He’s a man amongst boys sometimes on that perimeter and he can usually get what he wants, and he did tonight. He got 3 times as many three’s as our team did,” Eilert added.

The Panthers 16 triples matched the 16 that Kansas made in a 2020 win as the most ever by an opposing team at the WVU Coliseum. The Mountaineers were just 3 of 20 from behind the arc and were outscored by Pitt’s bench 25-3. Just like the previous games thus far this season, WVU played well in the first half then ran out of gas after the half. The Panthers led just 36-35 at the half but took control of the game at the 15 minute mark.

“It seemed like we had a lot more ball movement in the first half and the offense was so much crisper,” Eilert said. “In the 2nd half, everything was being forced and that’s not how we’re going to win.”

The Mountaineers got 22 points from Quinn Slazinski and 20 points and 9 rebounds from Jesse Edwards. Freshman Ofri Naveh scored 11. WVU shot 41.3 percent from the floor (22 of 53) and 16 of 18 from the free throw line. (88.9 percent).

Senior forward, Akok Akok, returned to action tonight after a medical emergency during the George Mason game on October 27. He returned to a standing ovation. He finished with two rebounds and two blocks in 8 minutes of action.” He gave us a spark a couple of times, especially on the defensive end, but he’s very limited with what we can do with him considering he just got cleared three or four days ago,” Eilert said. “We even had to call timeout to get him out and that’s part of the process of getting him reacclimated.”

WVU will face Drexel Saturday afternoon in its next contest. The game will tip off at 4 p.m at the Coliseum. Guard Kerr Kriisa will have to sit out the Drexel contest but will finally be permitted to return when WVU travels to Massachusetts on December 16.  Kriisa had to sit out a nine game NCAA suspension. Hopefully his return will strengthen an undermanned Mountaineer squad.