Mountaineers Run Out Of Gas, Fall 70-58 TO SMU in Tournament

FORT MYERS, FL—The West Virginia Mountaineer Men’s basketball team blew an 11 point halftime lead to SMU eventually falling 70-58 in the opening game of the Fort Myers Tip Off at Suncoast Credit Union Arena late Monday night. WVU is basically playing only six guys right now because their backup freshman point guard Jeremiah Bembry has been injured the last couple of days. The Mustangs took advantage of the situation using 11 players to wear down the Mountaineers. SMU outscored WVU 45-22 in the second half.

“That second half, I worried with the game plan I envisioned them having with their deep rotation, athleticism and the way they get up and down the floor and  how we’d manage that late in the game, WVU coach Josh Eilert said. “I thought we had a pretty good first half. We rebounded it well but to be honest, a lot of those shots we’re taking were uncontested,” he added.

“They started falling for them in the second half and we weren’t good enough late in the game with a short bench to match their physicality and the way they run out and try to get easy points,” Eilert added. West Virginia (2-2) got a game high 18 points from Jesse Edwards, who made seven of his 15 field goal attempts and only 4 of 9 from the free throw line. Quinn Slazinski was the  only other to reach double figures with 13.

WVU only connected on 13 of its 21 attempts at the free throw line. This was no doubt a product of being tired. Eilert was taking timeouts just to give his players a break. “That’s where we’re at with the timeouts it seems like. I can read them and their exhaustion levels,” Eilert said. 

WVU shot 37 percent from the floor, 31.3 percent from three point range and committed 15 turnovers which led to 16 SMU points. The Mustangs had a 19-11 edge in bench scoring.

“We really couldn’t get our defense set because we weren’t getting good looks,” Eilert said. “We were going to control this game on the offensive end by taking care of the ball and getting good shots to get our defense set.” Eilert said. The Mountaineers used just seven players tonight with Seth Wilson and Patrick Suemnick coming off the bench.

SMU shot 48.3 percent overall and 60 percent (18 of 30) in the second half. Monday’s game with SMU was the first meeting between these two schools. 

WVU will conclude its visit to Fort Myers on Wednesday night against Virginia at 6 p.m. on FS1. Earlier Monday, Virginia fell to Wisconsin.

Due to the shortage of players on WVU’s roster it doesn’t look good at the moment for the Mountaineers. The opposition will no doubt use this situation to wear down the Mountaineers and in all probability, beat them.