WVC basketball: Beilein making progress at Wesleyan
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Patrick Beilein brought his own brand of basketball to Buckhannon.
While West Virginia Wesleyan's offense doesn't resemble much the system he played under his father, John Beilein, from 2002-06 at West Virginia, credible progress was evident in his team's 70-59 West Virginia Conference victory over West Virginia State (5-7, 3-4) on Monday night in front of a sparse crowd at Fleming Hall.
Holdover senior forward Kelsey Williams is the center of the Bobcats' attack, all but forcing Beilein to adjust to his talent and help end a two-game losing streak and send West Virginia State to its fourth loss in the last five games.
Beilein, who scored 1,001 points during a four-year career with the Mountaineers, is slowly implementing the two-guard system with constant motion, backdoor cuts and disciplined passing that has helped his father's team, Michigan, reach No. 2 in the Associated Press Top 25.
"We don't do a lot (of the backdoor cuts) yet," Beilein said. "When I got the job it was June 18, so I'm still trying to imprint the offensive principles. What we have is a very good big man (Williams), and I can't be ignorant to go away from that to run backdoor cuts. I think the good coaches adapt to what they have."
Williams hit 11-of-19 shots and had help from others who excelled in Wesleyan's first victory at State since Jan. 17, 2002. The 6-foot-7 forward from Sandusky, Ohio, finished with 23 points and six rebounds.
Guard Raymond Warren had nine assists and six rebounds and former Preston star T.J. Thompson had 12 rebounds. Former Poca, Mountain State Academy and Logan star and WVU recruit Noah Cottrill had 13 points, and freshman Chris Dewberry contributed 11 points.
Cottrill's homecoming featured five turnovers, but it included three rebounds, a pair of assists and his well-known ability to respond to his critics.
After made free throws, he had a wink or a kiss for a heckler in the crowd. He was 5-of-6 from the line, where the Bobcats were 11-of-15.
State outscored Wesleyan (6-5, 3-4) in the paint 38-28, but came up short on multiple opportunities for more baskets. The Yellow Jackets led twice at 11-10 and 13-12 but finished the game shooting 24-of-67 (35.8 percent) from the floor, 2-17 (11.8 percent) from 3-point range and the 70-percent free throw shooting team made only 9-of-16 (56.3).
A nine-point halftime lead ballooned to 17 after a 3-pointer by Thompson with 15:34 left. Point guard Jalen Walker had 23 points and eight rebounds for State, while forward David Ford had 11 points and nine boards and Raymon Austin contributed 12 and seven.
"I didn't think we had it, I didn't think we had it at shoot around today," said State Coach Bryan Poore, whose team was coming off a 105-92 win against Glenville State in Institute. "I told them at shoot around today that their body language told me they didn't have the same excitement that they had two nights ago.
"We hadn't played in so long and we've been back practicing and all that so they were excited the other night to get to play. Now, you win one, you're feeling good about yourself and they lost that ... whatever that is. They didn't have that look in their eye, they didn't have that focus, they didn't have that intensity. They didn't have it."
Whatever "that" is, Wesleyan found it.
Beilein made his living at WVU through 3-pointers, where he was 242-of-675. The Bobcats were effective from long range, where one of Beilein's additions - freshman Soren Dossing - made three shots in the final 7:47 of the half to help Wesleyan create space.
Where Beilein admittedly did not excel while in college, on defense, also is where the Bobcats were proficient.
They challenged every shot, and while State missed some baskets from close, the Yellow Jackets had to battle for every chance.
The rebounds were even at 40 and State even had seven more offensive boards than the Bobcats, but it resulted in just an 11-4 edge in second-chance points.
This could be considered an important victory for the Bobcats, who avoided the first three-game losing streak of Beilein's coaching career.
Wesleyan returns home on Thursday where the Bobcats will host Pitt Johnstown, which took NCAA Division II top-ranked West Liberty to the wire on the road before falling 101-92.
State will also have a test on Thursday when Shepherd visits Fleming Hall. The upstart Rams, who are fifth in the WVC with a 5-2 league record, dropped a heartbreaker at Shepherdstown to West Liberty, 114-99. Also, State visits archrival University of Charleston at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4837.