Providence 64, No. 22 West Virginia 61
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP)—There’s more than one way to score three points in basketball, as No. 22 West Virginia figured out way too late.
The Mountaineers missed 32 of their season-high 41 3-point attempts Tuesday night and Providence took advantage, beating West Virginia 64-61 thanks to 24 points and seven rebounds from Weyinmi Efejuku.
“We had some pretty good shots but didn’t hit them,” West Virginia guard Darris Nichols said. “It was just one of those days.”
Providence (17-9, 7-6 Big East) improved to 16-2 at home and 3-3 against ranked teams as it tries to move off the NCAA tournament bubble.
West Virginia (20-7, 8-6) missed its last six 3-point attempts—four in the final minute as it tried to come back from a 62-56 deficit. Its only success in closing the gap came when Joe Alexander drove for a basket with 41 seconds left, was fouled and converted the traditional three-point play.
It was just the Mountaineers’ fourth foul shot of the game. They finished with six attempts.
“We wanted to drive the ball, which we really didn’t do,” West Virginia coach John Beilein said. “Forty-one—it’s a big number. Thirty to 35 would have been a good number.”
West Virginia is one of five ranked Big East teams, but it is still looking for a road win against a quality opponent. Although the Mountaineers have won four games in neutral site tournaments, their only victories on hostile courts were at Duquesne, Seton Hall and Rutgers—none of which is in the top 130 in the RPI rankings.
“This would have been a great fourth one for us,” Beilein said. “Everybody’s fighting to get that extra win so if they don’t win the Big East tournament they still get in. I know road games are always important.”
Nichols and Frank Young scored 14 apiece for West Virginia, but they were 2-for-8 and 4-for-12 from 3-point range, respectively. Alexander was 2-for-9, scoring 11 with eight rebounds, and Da’Sean Butler was 0-for-6 from beyond the arc.
“No one’s played much zone defense against them all year,” Friars coach Tim Welsh said. “We decided to extend the zone.”
Jonathan Kale added nine points and nine rebounds for Providence.
Although the Mountaineers had been content most of the game to shoot from the outside, Alexander headed for the basket with 40.9 seconds left and drew a foul. He was then credited with a steal with 33.5 seconds left as the Friars tried to cross midcourt.
But then Alexander missed another 3 and Efejuku was fouled on the rebound. He missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Butler hit a pair of free throws for West Virginia with 9.1 seconds left, but Herbert Hill broke free for a long pass and an easy dunk to ice it for Providence.
That was Providence’s only fast-break basket of the game, and it electrified the crowd. The Friars improved to 16-2 at home.
Rob Summers and Alexander made a layups to start the second half and give West Virginia a 34-25 lead, its biggest of the game. The Mountaineers led 39-32 when Providence scored nine consecutive points—five of them by Kale, including a layup with 11:51 left that made it 41-39.
The Friars extended their lead to 54-48 on 3-pointers by Efejuku, Geoff McDermott and Efejuku again.