MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Virginia Tech guard Erick Green scored 23 points, but couldn’t connect on a jumper at the buzzer, as the Hokies fell to West Virginia 68-67 in a nonconference game played at WVU Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
The loss marked Tech’s first of the season, dropping the Hokies to 7-1 overall. West Virginia moved to 4-3 overall and snapped a two-game game losing streak to the Hokies, as the two programs separated by four hours of roads and mountains resumed their longtime rivalry after an eight-year hiatus.
The Hokies were in position to win the game after forward Robert Brown banked in a 3-pointer with 18 seconds remaining to give Tech a 67-66 lead. But West Virginia’s Juwan Staten took advantage of some confusion on Tech’s part, scoring on an open layup with five seconds remaining to give the Mountaineers a 68-67 lead. It was Staten’s only basket of the game.
“We were switching everything, and they came with a ball screen and we didn’t pay attention to details like we should have,” Brown said. “And he (Staten) got a layup.”
“We just got screwed up on the switching situation,” Tech coach James Johnson said. “We were switching all the ball screen stuff, and you just want to keep the ball in front of you and make those guys take a contested shot. We knew Staten was going to try and drive the ball to the hole.”
The Hokies called timeout with 3.4 seconds left after Staten’s basket, and they got the ball into the hands of Green. The senior guard drove into the lane and lofted a jumper that bounced off the rim as time expired, enabling the Mountaineers to escape with a one-point victory.
“I had a great look,” Green said of the shot. “I thought it was good. I really thought it was in. I guess I left it a little short, but I couldn’t have gotten a better look. I was right where I needed to be. I just pulled up and left it a little bit short.”
Green scored 14 of his 23 points in the second half. He hit 8 of 19 from the floor for the game, including 2 of 5 from beyond the 3-point arc. He also dished out a career-high 10 assists.
Green and Brown teamed for 45 of the Hokies’ 67 points. Brown scored a career-high 21 points, hitting 9 of 19 from the floor, including 2 of 7 from beyond the arc.
But the two of them weren’t enough on a day in which Jarell Eddie played just 20 minutes because of foul trouble, the Hokies shot just 41.5 percent from the floor and Tech got out-rebounded 49-38. West Virginia finished with 23 offensive rebounds and 18 second-chance points.
“That was the game,” Johnson said. “We can’t give up 23 offensive rebounds and win. That can’t happen. They won the game on the backboards. They were a little tougher and a little more physical in there. We did a better job in the second half, but we weren’t consistent enough.”
West Virginia got huge games from a pair of unlikely sources. Junior center Aaric Murray scored a career-high 15 points and hit a career-high two 3-pointers. Also, sophomore Kevin Noreen, a 6-10 forward who came into the game averaging 1.3 points per game, finished with a double-double, scoring a career-high 14 points and grabbing a career-high 12 rebounds. Noreen hit two 3-pointers – the first two of his career.
“That was part of our game plan,” Johnson said. “(Kevin) Noreen has to play like that for them to win the game. We were not going to let those guys drive to the hole and get us in foul trouble. We were not going to let (Deniz) Kilicli or (Aaric) Murray post us up down low and get us in foul trouble. That was part of the game plan – to make them hit shots away from the basket. If they do that all night, they were going to be there at the end of the night, and they were.”
The Hokies do not have much time to lament this loss, as they take to the court on Monday night when Mississippi Valley State comes to Cassell Coliseum as part of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.
For updates on Virginia Tech men's basketball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_MBBall).
For updates on the Hokies, follow Jimmy Robertson on Twitter (@jrobIHS).