CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia State Coach Bryan Poore saw his team play with an intensity it had been missing for the first 28 games.
In the end, the Yellow Jackets couldn't overcome a University of Charleston team with a quest.
The Golden Eagles fought off a game State team, going on a 19-4 run midway through the second half en route to a hard-fought 97-83 victory over the Yellow Jackets (10-19) in the West Virginia Conference first round Tuesday at Eddie King Gym.
The story was much different than the first two meetings, when UC manhandled its archrival by scores of 92-56 and 92-75. The 17-point win in the second game wasn't as close as it appeared.
The Golden Eagles' fourth consecutive victory over State sends them into Thursday's 6:30 p.m. quarterfinal game at the Charleston Civic Center against fourth-seeded Wheeling Jesuit (18-9), a 77-69 victor over No. 13 Davis & Elkins (8-19).
"They were playing with a lot of energy," Golden Eagles Coach Mark Downey said. "This time of year, you lose, you go home. We knew it was going to be a different game."
It was different in terms of the result, but it was the same in level of play for Charleston, which has won four of its last five games.
As for State, its season ended in the first round of the league tournament for the second consecutive year.
Still, State remains the last team before West Liberty to win the conference's regular-season title (2009) or the tournament crown (2010).
They just couldn't survive a rising UC team, which had lost five of eight games before its recent run of success.
The Golden Eagles (19-8) received another standout showing from Winthrop transfer Robbie Dreher. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound guard was just 5-of-17 from 3-point range entering UC's Feb. 2 game against Bluefield. Since then, Dreher is 7-of-16, including a 3-for-3 effort against State. He has made five of his last six.
"I'm not going to say I can shoot, but I'm able to knock down shots when I'm open," said Dreher, who finished with 17 points. "I just haven't been shooting them because I think it's more of a confidence thing."
His first 3-pointer of the game gave Charleston a 42-34 lead with 40 seconds until halftime.