MORGANTOWN - There were tears in the West Virginia locker room Saturday after the armor that had protected their souls through six prior losses was pierced by the seventh.
The Mountaineers were defeated in a way they had not endured this season. As a result, they had to accept harsh words from their coach.
The 63-61 loss to No. 3 Syracuse was painful with a NCAA season-high 28,740 witnesses to a crime perpetuated not by Syracuse's Baye Keita goaltending Deniz Kilicli's game-tying layup, but by the three officials who didn't call it.
Still, it is the truth that hurt the Mountaineers the most.
"I told them because they didn't come to play Wednesday, they've put themselves in a heck of a hole," Huggins said.
Yes, WVU was wronged in front of the cameras at the Carrier Dome. Also, that follows the mistake the officials made in the final moments at Connecticut earlier this month. That was when a ball went out of bounds off a Huskies player - who even admitted it when it happened - yet possession went to the home team with WVU trailing by three points and 16 seconds remaining.
No, that doesn't change the fact the second bad call made a bad situation worse. The Mountaineers lost two games on last week's road trip, one that began with a chance to be in first place in the conference, but ended instead with them tied for sixth place in the standings.
Sports so often mimic life and this is no different. Reality is defined by the present, but it's explained by what precedes it. You don't get a speeding ticket for driving too fast. You get it because you overslept and had to hurry to work.
What happened to WVU Saturday is made much worse by the 16-point loss to St. John's. The Mountaineers are in a place they're not too familiar with and on the border of a foreign land.
Huggins' teams have lost back-to-back games only eight times in five seasons. They've never lost three in a row. They've handled heartbreak to avoid a three-game losing streak, but tonight's challenge is going to be very different.
The grumbling Mountaineers (15-7, 5-4 Big East) play host to grooving Pitt (13-9, 2-7) at 7 p.m. inside the Coliseum in a game televised by ESPN.
"We'll be fine," Huggins said.
He would know. In his first season, WVU lost at home to Georgetown when Patrick Ewing Jr. blocked Da'Sean Butler's layup that would have won the game at the buzzer - and Huggins and many others thought it was goaltending, which we were all reminded of Saturday.
In the next game, WVU lost at home to Cincinnati 62-39 and was so bad on offense that Huggins said, "we set the school record for ineptness." They won the next game against Providence.