WASHINGTON (AP)—Kevin Pittsnogle went from zero to 25 in three days. John Beilein went from zone to man-to-man in 15 minutes, the length of a halftime.
When the star player and head coach both have a good game, West Virginia is tough to beat. The No. 9 Mountaineers rebounded from their only Big East loss, dominating the second half in a 69-56 victory over No. 15 Georgetown on Sunday night.
Held scoreless in a 57-53 loss Thursday at Pittsburgh, Pittsnogle scored 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting and scored six of the first eight points in a 15-5 game-ending run against the Hoyas. The victory snapped Georgetown’s seven-game winning streak and moved West Virginia (18-5, 9-1) into a first-place tie with Connecticut and Villanova.
Pittsnogle was playing his third game since his wife, Heather, gave birth to the couple’s first child on Feb. 3.
“He had bounce in his step,” Beilein said. “He had a tough week last week. He had a lot of sleepless nights during Heather’s pregnancy. He may have been pressing too hard. We had a little talk and just said: ‘Kevin, you’re better when you let things come to you,’ and he did that today.”
Mike Gansey and Johannes Herber added 13 points apiece for the Mountaineers, who shot 62 percent in the second half and throttled Georgetown by switching from Beilein’s customary 1-3-1 zone to a man-to-man.
“I don’t think I’ve seen a game where they’ve gotten out of the zone the whole second half,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said.
The Hoyas, who led by as many as 11 in the first half, scored only 19 points in the second. Jeff Green scored all but five. Green went 6-for-10 from the field in the half, while his teammates went 2-for-23.
“We got some open looks from our guys who are good shooters that didn’t go in,” Thompson said. “Then we got into a stretch where we keep taking 3s instead of going to the basket. The ball didn’t bounce our way tonight.”
Green finished with 21 points, and Brandon Bowman scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half for the Hoyas (17-5, 8-3), who were trying to beat a Top 10 team for the third time this season.
West Virginia defeated Georgetown at home on Jan. 11, and thousands of West Virginia fans hopeful of a sweep rivaled the noise and support of the home team at the MCI Center and chanted “Overrated” in the game’s final minute.
“You definitely don’t want a losing streak this late in the season, especially in the Big East. It’s really tough,” Pittsnogle said. “You’ve got to try to get as many wins as you can. You see it tonight, the atmosphere here was like the Big East tournament.”
Pittsnogle went 0-for-12 against Pittsburgh and missed his first two shots against the Hoyas, but he hit a pair of jumpers and Gansey made a 3-pointer to give the Mountaineers a 20-13 lead.
The Hoyas came back with three 3-pointers in a 15-0 run, capped by a pair of steals by Darrel Owens that led to breakaway reverse dunks. Owens fed Bowman for the first slam, then took the ball the distance himself for the second one to put Georgetown ahead 33-22 on the way to a 37-29 halftime lead.
But the Hoyas missed their first six shots in the second half, and West Virginia took the lead with a 10-0 run. Green scored two baskets to steady the Hoyas, but Pittsnogle hit a fadeaway jumper in an 8-0 run that gave the Mountaineers the lead for good.
Green answered again with a layup and a fast-break dunk that cut the Mountaineers’ lead to 54-51 with 6:01 to play, but Georgetown didn’t score again until the game’s final minute. The Hoyas went 1-for-5 from the free-throw line for the game, and the only good one was made by Green with 0.1 seconds remaining.
“Did we lose our poise? No,” Thompson said. “Did we not execute as we should have? Yes.”