West Virginia listless in 77-54 loss to Gonzaga
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins has endured tougher losses than
the 77-54 whipping Gonzaga dealt the Mountaineers on Thursday
He’s just not sure he’s had a more humbling one.
Dominated on both ends of the floor all night, West Virginia
hardly looked inspired by the decided home-court advantage at
Consol Energy Center. Listless nearly from the opening tip, the
Mountaineers were handed their worst tournament defeat in a quarter
”I’ve never gotten beat like that,” Huggins said. ”We just
were never in the game. Shouldn’t say `never.’ Maybe a couple
times. But not very well. I don’t know. Have to figure it
Gonzaga gave Huggins the entire offseason to mull it over as the
youth-laden Bulldogs heeded senior center Robert Sacre’s advice on
how to play the bruising Mountaineers.
”Hit `em, is all you’ve got to say,” Sacre said. ”Hit `em, be
physical, let everything else work itself out. As long as you’re
physical, that’s all that matters. Show that Gonzaga’s not
Done and done.
Sacre and Gary Bell Jr. scored 14 points apiece for
seventh-seeded Gonzaga (26-6), which will play Ohio State or Loyola
(Md.) in the third round on Saturday.
Kevin Pangos added 13 points and five assists, and the fight the
Bulldogs were expecting from the 10th-seeded Mountaineers (19-14)
never materialized. West Virginia shot 32 percent (16 of 49) from
the field and had no answer when Gonzaga went on a 13-0 run midway
through the first half to break it open.
”This is the worst defensive team I’ve ever had in 30 years,”
Huggins said. ”We don’t get the help, we don’t get the loose
balls. We don’t do the things we’ve done for years and years and
And the Bulldogs did.
Playing the versatile, brainy style that’s become the program’s
calling card during its 14-year NCAA tournament run, Gonzaga had
little trouble despite the hostile environment.
Coach Mark Few worried his inexperienced roster would have
trouble with the 2,200-mile journey from Spokane, Wash., and a
crowed heavily tilted toward the Mountaineers, a short 75-mile bus
trip from the arena.
Pangos wasted little time putting his coach’s fears – and his
own – to rest. The freshman hit his first shot in NCAA tournament
play and his second, a 3-pointer that gave Gonzaga the lead 90
seconds into the game. Bell added one of his own and Elias Harris
”I had jitters going into it, I’ll be honest,” Pangos said.
”Once you get playing, it’s just the same game. It was easier.
Everyone brought it on the court. It was a lot of fun, playing with
the guys. Everyone did their part.”
Gary Browne led the Mountaineers with 15 points off the bench
and Kevin Jones scored 13 in his final game for West Virginia. The
defeat was WVU’s worst in the NCAA tournament since losing to
Maryland by 25 in 1984.
”(Gonzaga) came out tougher, more aggressive, more energized
than we were,” Jones said. ”You see the result of it. They were
the better team.”
On every inch of the floor.
Its offensive flow disrupted by Gonzaga’s in-your-jersey
defense, West Virginia failed to play with any rhythm on either
end. The Bulldogs bottled up Jones and were more than happy to let
forward Deniz Kilicli and senior guard Darryl ”Truck” Bryant try
to beat them.
Bryant, playing in his sixth and final NCAA tournament game for
the Mountaineers, couldn’t get going. He missed all five of his
shots during a miserable first half and finished with nine points
on 2-of-10 shooting while getting badly outplayed by Pangos and
”We just got out-toughed tonight,” Bryant said.
Kilicli included. The brutish center from Turkey said Wednesday
he didn’t think the Bulldogs would be ”prepared” to face a team
as physical as West Virginia.
Gonzaga was more than ready and proved it during the final 12
minutes of the first half when it blew the game open. An acrobatic
layup in traffic by Guy Landry Edi started a 13-0 burst that gave
the Bulldogs a 27-10 lead.
The Mountaineers missed eight straight shots during the stretch
and fell asleep on defense, a cardinal sin when you play for
Huggins. During one sequence, Aaron Brown clanked a 3-pointer and
then got caught watching – along with Bryant and Browne – as Edi
streaked behind them and collected a long pass from Pangos for a
Huggins exploded out of his chair and called a timeout, but the
Bulldogs kept right on going, taking a 40-22 lead at the break to
cap a nearly flawless first half.
”We were getting open looks and we were just knocking them
down,” Bell said.
The only real miscue came from sophomore point guard David
Stockton, the son of Hall of Fame guard and Gonzaga alum John
Stockton. Though the younger Stockton knocked down a 3-pointer
during the game-turning run, he also airballed a free throw.
His father, sitting six rows behind the Gonzaga bench, stifled a
laugh as his son shook his head, one of the few mistakes the
Bulldogs made on a night they rolled into the round of 32.