West Virginia men rally past upset-minded Monmouth in season opener
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Juwan Staten scored 20 points, and Devin Williams added 15 as West Virginia knocked off upset-minded Monmouth on Friday night 64-54 in the opening game of the season for both teams.
The Mountaineers used a 21-4 run in a little more than five, second-half minutes to polish off the Hawks. During the span, the visitors failed to score a basket against West Virginia’s pressure defense.
Deon Jones had 14 points, and Andrew Nicholas had 10 for Monmouth.
Monmouth led 46-36 with 7:36 remaining. But the Hawks got in foul trouble, and the Mountaineers took advantage. Three big men — Brice Kofane, Zac Tillman and Chris Brady — fouled out for Monmouth. Meanwhile, Williams made them pay.
The 6-foot-9, 255-pound sophomore had only three field goals but netted 9 of 14 free throws. He also pulled down a career-high 15 rebounds.
Williams scored three field goals and connected on 5 of- 7 free throws in the game’s last 6:40.
But it was what the Mountaineers forward did without the ball that was equally important in giving coach Bob Huggins his 741st career victory.
Kofane completed a three-point play to give Monmouth a 46-36 advantage. But the 6-foot-8 senior’s field goal would be just 1 of 2 that coach King Rice’s team would make the rest of the way.
West Virginia scored eight straight points to pull within 46-44 with 5:38 remaining. Chase Connor started the streak with a 3-point shot, but Williams did the dirty work.
He made 2 of 4 free throws, the first of which after he got 6-foot-10 Brady to foul out. On the other end, he blocked a shot out of bounds and then drew a charge to give the Mountaineers the ball back. Gary Browne completed the run with a 3-pointer.
The dash was part of a larger streak when West Virginia outscored Monmouth ,29-9.
Staten connected on 4 of 9 shots and made 11 of 12 free throws to lead the Mountaineers. West Virginia connected on only 18 of 69 field goals (26.1 percent).
The Mountaineers enjoyed a 49-33 advantage in rebounding. Monmouth was called for 31 fouls against just 17 for West Virginia.