MORGANTOWN, WV - The West Virginia Mountaineers cruised to a 74-55 win over the Bellarmine Knights on Tuesday night pushing their overall record to 6-1 on the young season.
Sean McNeil made the first two baskets of the game against his former school to give the Mountaineers an early 4-0 lead. CJ Fleming opened up the scoring for Bellarmine with a heavily contested three-pointer in front of the WVU bench as the shot clock expired. Curt Hopf scored seven of the next nine points for the Knights inside the paint to give Bellarmine a 12-11 edge at the under 12 timeout.
That slim one point evaporated quickly as the Mountaineers went on a 12-2 run with most of the contributions coming from the bench. Bellarmine made some tough shots to chip away at the lead, including a couple of baskets that were miraculously banked in. West Virginia did not have much trouble defensively but the Knights continued to snatch up offensive rebounds, seven to be exact, which led to eight 2nd chance points.
Trailing by 10, Bellarmine's Juston Betz dropped in two points from right underneath the basket. On the next possession, Dimon Carrigan picked up a bad foul as Fleming rose up from three. Fleming hit all three free throws cutting the lead to just five points. Jalen Bridges answered on the other end with a tough stepback mid-range jumper to put the score at 37-30 going into the half.
Taz Sherman led the charge offensively with 11 first half points on 4/6 shooting from the field. However, he did turn the ball over three times, two of which were caused by dribbling the ball into traffic.
The Mountaineers took firm control of the game in the opening minutes of the 2nd half going on a 9-2 run to get things started. A few minutes later, that was followed up by a 20-4 run by West Virginia that pushed the lead out to 71-43. Sean McNeil found his rhythm and sparked the run by hitting a couple of deep threes and a mid-range jumper.
Bellarmine was out of sync offensively, turning the ball over ten times and forcing up a lot of low-percentage shots due to getting too deep into the shot clock. The Mountaineers held Dylan Penn, the Knights' leading scorer, to just 14 points on the night, six of which came in the final two minutes of the game when WVU emptied the bench. Bellarmine went on a 10-0 run in the final two and a half minutes but the game was well in hand at that point.
West Virginia will be home once again this Saturday as they welcome in former WVU guard Darris Nichols and the Radford Highlanders. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. EST.
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