CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- University of Charleston's men's basketball Coach Mark Downey isn't accustomed to losing.
He looked stunned walking out of the locker room Saturday night after the loss to Pitt-Johnstown, 82-72 at Eddie King Gym. Now Downey's Golden Eagles (15-6, 11-6) play at conference powerhouse West Liberty (22-1, 16-1) at 7:30 tonight.
Downey's near stoic demeanor began cracking under frustration late in the first half.
The Mountain Cats shot 61 percent from the floor and 60 percent from behind the arc in the first half to build a 10-point halftime lead.
Downey's calm resolve finally broke with 1:22 left in the half.
Nick Novak, a 6-foot senior guard, parted the Charleston defense and drove to the basket uncontested for an easy bucket.
Two seconds later Downey was striding onto the court, calling a timeout and raising his right hand in accusation at the five UC players unlucky enough to be on the floor - all at the same time.
"I've got to act like an idiot to get these guys going," the third-year UC coach said.
Downey didn't look idiotic in that last time out of the half, he look resolved.
His resolution and coaching experience proved vital in the second half. Led by 6-5 junior Quincy Washington, the Eagles went on a 15-5 run to take the lead 60-58 with 7:33 left in the game.
But Charleston couldn't hang on to the momentum.
"When things start to go bad or I start to get on people - we've got guys that will tuck their heads between their legs and that's hard to coach," Downey said.
With less than 4 minutes left in the game the Cats made their own run.