Mountaineers Survive Season Opener 67-59

MORGANTOWN, WV—Should Mountaineer basketball fans be concerned after a sluggish, sloppy first half start against Missouri State Monday night in the team’s season opener ? WVU did manage to outscore Mo. State 43-29 in the second half to squeak out a last minute 67-59 win for interim head coach Josh Eilert’s first victory.  WVU was behind at the half 30-24. The Mountaineers missed 21 straight field goal attempts at the end of the first half. 

“We started the game well,” Eilert said. “We had a lot of energy coming out of the gate and then I think we got a little selfish and we abandoned what our approach was offensively,” Eilert added.

Quinn Slazinski led the Mountaineers with 18 points and seven rebounds, while Jesse Edwards chipped in 13 points and a solid 13 rebounds. Seth Wilson had 11 points. Georgetown transfer Akok Akok sat out the game because of suffering a medical emergency in the charity exhibition game against George Mason.  “Credit to everyone that came in tonight,” Eilert added, referring to only eight of nine players that dressed for the game.

Overall the Mountaineers shot 34.9% to the Bears 35.4 %.

The big question is how will WVU keep up in games with guard Kerr Kriisa missing nine games because of impermissible benefits he received while playing at Arizona? Kriisa, who averaged 9.9 points per game last season at Arizona, and 5.1 APG, will be greatly missed. Kriisa didn’t seem concerned, however.

“I think we’re in a good spot right now,” Kriisa told ESPN at Big 12 Media Day recently when asked about his team’s ability to jell during a turbulent offseason. “I was never really worried about team chemistry.” He added. 

Also hampering the Mountaineers will be the likely absence of RaeQuan Battle for the whole season because of the NCAA ruling recently. Battle averaged 17.7 PPG at Montana State last season. The University is still appealing the ruling and it could take weeks to sort out.

A good crowd of 9,691 watched the contest. WVU will face Monmouth Friday night. The game will be televised on ESPN+