West Virginia 90, Massachusetts 77
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP)—Frank Young showed why he has West Virginia’s 3-point shooting record.
Young hit six 3s and scored a career-high 31 points in the Mountaineers’ 90-77 win over Massachusetts in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament on Thursday night.
“He just needs one,” West Virginia coach John Beilein said. “One gets him going. He is a home-run hitter for us.”
Three of Young’s 3s came in a 6-minute span at the end of the first half as West Virginia built a 37-23 edge by the break. His sixth 3-pointer, which tied Chris Leonards 1992 record of 101 in a season, sealed the victory at 85-73 with 2 minutes left after UMass rallied from a 19-point deficit to pull within 74-70.
“I had a good feeling as soon as I hit my first shot,” said Young, who also set a school record for points in the NIT. “I was focused and I kept coming off screens and looked for my shot. During the rally, I told my teammates to calm down. They did and I popped open for a late 3.”
That ended a late charge by UMass, which was down by 19 at 46-27 with 17 minutes left. The Minutemen pulled to 56-52 before West Virginia hit six consecutive free throws to rebuild its lead.
UMass closed to 74-70 before Young scored six of WVU’s next nine points to push the lead back to double digits.
West Virginia (24-9), the top seed in the East Region, will face the winner of the N.C. State-Marist game in the quarterfinals. The Mountaineers are 15-1 at home this season.
Darris Nichols added 14 points, Da’Sean Butler had 10 and Alex Ruoff had eight points and seven assists for the Mountaineers.
James Life led fourth-seeded UMass (24-9) with 20 points. Gary Forbes added 15 points and Stephane Lasme scored 14. Lasme, the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, also had 14 rebounds for his 14th double-double this season and 22nd of his career.
“They just stayed calm and collected,” Life said. “They hit a lot of big shots when they needed them. They have very big 3-point shooters, and they used them.”
The Mountaineers, who advanced to the NCAA regional semifinals each of the past two seasons, have won 24 games for just the third time in the last 18 years.
“Were not looking for or making any excuses,” UMass coach Travis Ford said. “We got beat by a really good team. When they made 3s, there are not too many teams that can beat them. They have the right players for this system.”
The Minutemen, who led the Atlantic 10 in rebounding, managed just a 35-29 edge on the boards against the Big East’s second-worst rebounding team. It was the first meeting between the former A-10 rivals since 1995, when then-No. 1 UMass beat West Virginia in overtime, before the Mountaineers joined the Big East.
The fast-paced game slowed considerably in the second half. The teams were whistled for a combined 35 fouls. The Mountaineers, who made their first 12 free throws, were in the double-bonus with almost 10 minutes left. They finished 16-for-21 on free throws.
UMass, the worst free-throw shooting team in the Atlantic 10, was 10-for-17.