WVU hoops: Duquesne snaps 8-game losing streak to Mountaineers
PITTSBURGH - West Virginia's eight-game winning streak against Duquesne came to an end Tuesday night with a second straight ugly loss in the Consol Energy Center.
Nobody who participated in this 60-56 defeat before a crowd of 6,244 mostly interested in the Mountaineers was around for the 2002 loss to the Dukes, but WVU sure has a familiar feeling.
"It seems like right now we're having the same season we had last year when we said from the beginning of this season it was not going to happen," sophomore guard Gary Browne said.
Naturally, not everyone agrees with Browne.
"Last year we were in better position," senior forward Deniz Kilicli said.
WVU is now 4-4, the worst start since a 4-4 beginning to the 1998-99 season, but this funk is fresher in the minds of most Mountaineers. Last season, WVU had the worst 3-point shooting percentage in school history (29.8 percent) and shot just 43.8 percent for the season.
That team was also 6-2 at this point, didn't lose its fourth game until Dec. 30 and won 19 games in the regular season to reach a fifth straight NCAA Tournament. That ended, though, with a 77-54 loss to Gonzaga in this building.
"The bottom line is it's my fault and I'm going to fix it," Coach Bob Huggins said.
These Mountaineers are now a little worried after blowing a 15-point second half lead and taking their first loss in the series since John Beilein's first road game as WVU's coach in 2002. WVU shot 33.3 percent and 22.2 percent from 3-point range and was outscored 37-20 in the second half.
"Complacent," senior guard Matt Humphrey said. "You can't be up 13 at the half and lose a game like that in college basketball."
WVU reunites with Beilein and his third-ranked Michigan Wolverines on Saturday at the Barclays Center. Michigan moved to 10-0 with a 67-39 home win against Binghamton on Tuesday. Beilein has his team off to its best start since the 1988-89 season, when the Wolverines won a national championship.
Duquesne's Jerry Jones was 7-for-9 from the floor and led all scorers with 16 points and Derrick Colter scored five of his 12 points in the final two minutes. They combined for 24 points after halftime. Marvin Binney made all four of his shots and had 10 points for the Dukes (6-4), who shot 53.6 percent in the second half and wound up outrebounding WVU 43-39.
Juwan Staten led WVU with 13 points, but missed 11 of his 16 shots and scored just three points after halftime. Browne had 10 points, all in the first half, and Humphrey, who had been bothered by a shoulder injury and missed two of the previous four games and played a total of four minutes in the other two, had 10 points.
The Mountaineers were 9-for-32 in the second half, when they also missed 6 of 7 free throws and 7 of 8 3-pointers.
They would struggle with their shots from the very beginning with a 10-for-27 start, but managed a 25-10 lead late in the first half on a three-point play by freshman Terry Henderson. The Dukes were 4-for-20 from the floor and had only scored on five possessions.
They rallied with scores on six straight possessions and baskets on four straight shots. A 9-0 run ended when Staten hit a jumper as the shot clock expired. Duquesne scored to make it 27-21 and WVU turned the ball over with 2:39 left in the half.
The Mountaineers then scored on three straight trips, each off a Duquesne turnover. The last score, a 3 from Humphrey, put WVU ahead 36-23 just before halftime.
The trap was set for the Mountaineers.
"We took this game for granted in the second half," Browne said. "We didn't come to play and they did."
He Dukes had all their points in the paint or at the foul line in the first half, but finally made a 3 after eight misses to cut WVU's lead to 11 points early in the second half. A second jumper made it a seven-point game with 17:55 remaining.
Kevin Noreen and Staten would score to put WVU up 11 and a layup by Kilicli made it 45-34, but the Dukes would dash back into the game with a 16-4 run and take a 51-50 lead on a three-point play by Jones with 5:51 to go.
Noreen tipped in a miss on the other end to put WVU back in front, but that was the last time the Mountaineers would lead. Jones made a 3 and Colter answered a jumper by WVU's Aaric Murray with back-to-back layups to go ahead 56-53 with 1:17 left.
Kilicli, who had just six points in 33 minutes, missed the front end of a one-and-one for the second time in the second half and Jones made it 59-53 with a layup with 28 seconds to go. Humphrey answered with a 3 and Johnson missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Humphrey missed his 3 that would have tied the score.
Browne sneaked inside for the tip in and was fouled, but his putback rolled of the rim with 4.1 seconds to go. Needing to make the first free throw and miss the second, Browne missed the first and then had his second disallowed because it missed the rim.
"We didn't finish it," Huggins said. "We had opportunities when we were up in double figures in the second half to push it to 20-some points and we didn't do it. To their credit, they shot it terrible during the game, but they started making some shots when the looks we had were just as good."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.