MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- It took a reversal of roles for West Virginia (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today; No. 14 AP) to snap a season-high three-game losing streak with a 68-64 win over Louisville on Saturday.
The Mountaineers, foiled from the outside in losing four of
their last five, turned to inside shooting and defense and outpaced
Louisville's typically solid pressure for the win.
"We learned at Syracuse that we had to attack inside and
outside for scoring success," WVU coach John Beilein said. "It's
rare that you see a game where we shoot twenty-some percent from
3-point range and win."
The difference was that West Virginia (19-8, 10-4 Big East) hit
16 of 25 two-point shots in a game where it missed 23 of its
trademark 31 3-pointers.
"Our zone was terrific and we got them to shoot a really low
percentage, but our man wasn't as good," Louisville coach Rick
Pitino said. "They put so much pressure on you when you have to
The Cardinals, hurt in the NCAA Tournament last year by 18 WVU
3-pointers, extended its man defense only to leave the middle open
for short jumpers. West Virginia used the spot to find cutters
toward the basket for easy lay-ins.
"I had heard rumors that I couldn't dunk, so I figured I would
get some today," said the 6-foot-11 Pittsnogle, ridiculed for soft
inside play of late. "We were able to take more inside shots
instead of relying so much on the outside shot."
The win pushes WVU within one victory of sealing one of four Big
East Tournament first round byes. Louisville (17-10, 5-9) is now in
a battle for the 12th and final spot in the Big East Tournament
with two games left, including one at Connecticut (No. 4 ESPN/USA Today; No. 3 AP).
West Virginia built a 61-50 lead with 3:52 left on Saturday but
saw it whittled down to seven in the final minute. The game then
became dramatic when Pittsnogle fouled Andre McGee on a drive to
the basket with 4.8 seconds left. McGee made the lay-in and
accidentally hit the resulting free throw to pull Louisville within
"Andre is a 51 percent shooter and we were trying to miss
that," Pitino said. "I think I should have just told him to miss
J.D. Collins was then fouled and made both free throws for the
final margin. They added for his career-high 13th point. He also
had five rebounds and three assists and headed WVU's press break.
"I thought that was the difference maker," Pitino said. "We
played great but they're just better at what they do than we are at
what we do now."
Tied at 31 at the half, the teams split the first six points of
the second half for a 37-37 tie with 16:22 left before trading
leads five times in six possessions over the next three minutes.
The last lead change came on Pittsnogle's first 3-pointer of the
game and gave West Virginia a 44-42 edge. It never trailed again.
Collins drilled another 3-pointer on the Mountaineers' next trip
only to have McGee answer at the other end for the game's 15th
3-pointer, which pulled Louisville within 47-45 with 11:54 left.
West Virginia then used a 14-5 run over the next eight minutes
for its largest lead of the game at 61-50. Gansey and Pittsnogle
combined for eight points in the push. Collins added five,
including one of his season-high two 3-pointers.