WVU basketball: Mountaineers cruise past William & Mary at Civic Center
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Tim Rusthoven, William & Mary's shaggy-haired, bearded post player, maneuvered around the West Virginia for consecutive point-blank baskets to start Sunday's game at the Charleston Civic Center.
It could've been a harbinger. After all, the Tribe entered play No. 19 in Division I men's college basketball in 2-point shooting percentage. They're so efficient and consistent on offense that Marcus Thornton, the Colonial Athletic Association's leading scorer, came into the game with the NCAA's longest active streak of games scoring in double figures.
After Rusthoven's second basket fell through the net with 18:58 left of the first half, however, the Tribe managed a measly six 2-pointers the rest of the way, and West Virginia cruised to an 82-45 win in its final non-conference game of the regular season.
Thornton finished with just nine points on 3 of 16 shooting. His 42-game streak is over.
"Our coaches were really on us tough this week with how dangerous they can be," WVU point guard Juwan Staten said. "They have a great scorer in Marcus Thornton and those other guys make shots, they do everything they're asked to do and they play their role.
"We had a lot of time to work on things."
The Mountaineers (8-5) had a week-long break after the Dec. 22 home loss to Purdue.
Re-energized from the rest, the WVU defense held William & Mary to 14 of 55 shooting (25.5 percent) and 6 of 25 on 3-pointers (24.0 percent).
West Virginia Coach Bob Huggins heaped praise on junior forward Kevin Noreen, who played the most minutes of any player off the bench and stayed on the floor because of his defensive presence. He scored three points and grabbed six rebounds in a season-high 24 minutes.
"I thought Kevin Noreen kind of turned it around for us," Huggins said after the Mountaineers handed the Tribe its worst loss this season and its worst defeat in the 46-game history of the series. "He came in and did a good job of keeping the ball out of the middle of the floor and out of the high post. That forced them to take some shots they probably didn't want to take and got us out in transition.
"Noreen kept the ball out of where they want to run offense from ... When Kevin got in, I think that really changed the game. That enabled us to get out in transition."
Noreen subbed into the game when it was tied 8-8, and WVU reeled off 15 consecutive points. The first eight of those points came when junior forward Remi Dibo sandwiched a pair of 3-pointers around a thunderous, one-handed dunk by Staten.
Staten waited to judge how William & Mary's Omar Prewitt was going to defend him, and when Prewitt gave him space, Staten went for the emphatic slam.
"He's a great playmaker," WVU freshman forward Nathan Adrian said of Staten. "When he makes plays like that it gets everybody going. From that point on, we didn't really let up."
Staten finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, his first double-double in two seasons with the Mountaineers. He had one double-double (10 points, 10 assists) during his freshman season at Dayton.
The Mountaineers' lead ballooned to as many as 40 points - 80-40 - behind the contributions of Noreen, Dibo and four others who scored in double figures. Sophomore Terry Henderson scored a season-high 19 points, and Adrian collected 14 of his career-high 16 points in a span of 4:33 midway through the second half.
Adrian finished 6 of 7 from the field and 4 for 5 from 3-point range. West Virginia hit 30 of its 61 shots, 8 of its 22 three-pointers and all but one of its 15 free throws.
Next up: Year 2 of Big 12 play. The Mountaineers, who'd lost three of four before Sunday's rout, hit the road Saturday (at TCU) and next Monday (at Texas Tech) for two games in three days.
Huggins said the Mountaineers "guarded better" and "rebounded better," but it has to be replicated in conference play.
"It's got to be an every day deal," he said.
Contact sports editor Chuck McGill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-7949. Follow him on Twitter @chuckmcgill.