The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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December 30, 2013

WVU hammers William & Mary

Mountaineers win big before start of Big 12 play

CHARLESTON — Terry Henderson and West Virginia are ready to see what the Big 12 portion of the schedule has in store for the Mountaineers.

Henderson scored a season-high 19 points and West Virginia broke out to a big lead early, coasting to an 82-45 win over William & Mary on Sunday.

Other than the game’s opening moments, the Mountaineers (8-5) showed no rust from a seven-day holiday layoff. The Mountaineers shot 49 percent (30 of 61) from the floor in their final nonconference game and will start Big 12 play at TCU on Jan. 4.

In its first meeting with William & Mary in 31 years, West Virginia opened a 21-point lead late in the first half and extended that lead to as many as 40 points in the second half.

“I knew I was due for a big game, honestly,” said Henderson, who is West Virginia’s third-leading scorer at 10 points per game. “I’ve been pretty consistent over the past few months. It felt good to break out and have a big game before the conference split and get my confidence up.”

Freshman Nathan Adrian added a season-high 16 points, Juwan Staten added 15 points and 10 rebounds and Eron Harris scored 10 for West Virginia.

William & Mary (6-5) was looking for its highest-profile win of the season but ended up with its worst shooting performance and lowest point production. The Tribe were held to 26 percent shooting (14 of 55).

The Mountaineers held a 47-31 rebounding advantage and coach Bob Huggins liked what he saw from his defense. But he was discouraged by the efforts of some players.  

“It’s got to be an everyday deal,” he said. “We guarded better. We rebounded better, although we had some guys that weren’t very good. It’ll be hard for us to survive (in the Big 12) if we don’t have everybody playing pretty well.”

West Virginia led 41-24 at halftime and held William & Mary scoreless over nearly five minutes to start the second half.

Henderson scored six of West Virginia’s first eight points after halftime, and Adrian was brilliant over a 4-minute stretch that included 14 points and four 3-pointers.

Gary Browne’s layup capped a 19-6 run that extended the Mountaineers’ lead to 72-36 with 7:43 left.

Adrian said he worked hard on his jump shot after returning from the holiday break. He had scored seven points in his last four games combined.

“I’ve got my rhythm back,” Adrian said. “I’ve been working more than I usually do and obviously it helped a lot because I hit shots this game. I haven’t lately, but Huggs has been on me about getting in the gym. It’s good to listen to him.”

West Virginia’s Brandon Watkins earned his first start of the season. The last time the Mountaineers played in Charleston on Dec. 14, Watkins had 12 points and 11 rebounds against Marshall.

But Watkins went to the bench 3 minutes into the game after allowing Tim Rusthoven to score three inside baskets that put William & Mary out front 6-2. Rusthoven wasn’t much of a factor after that and William & Mary went more than seven minutes until its next field goal.

Remi Dibo came off the bench to hit a pair of 3-pointers, and West Virginia used a mix of long shots and fast-break points during a 15-0 run to seize a 23-8 lead midway through the first half.

The Mountaineers extended the lead to 37-16 on two free throws by Staten with 2:40 left before William & Mary scored 8 of the final 12 points of the half.

But the Tribe had too many scoring droughts and leading scorer Marcus Thornton was held to a season-low nine points.

Rusthoven led William & Mary in scoring with 13 points.

“We didn’t execute well,” Rusthoven said. “We let their pressure take us out of our game. They were tougher than us today. They’re a good team, you’ve got to hand it to them. But we didn’t play our best either. We kind of hurt ourselves, too.”

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