The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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December 31, 2012

Mountaineers hold off Colonels in final nonconference game

MORGANTOWN — It took three scorers in double figures — one with a career high — and a sterling free-throw performance for West Virginia to hold off Eastern Kentucky, 74-67, Sunday.

For coach Bob Huggins’ Mountaineers (7-5), it was the third straight win heading into the Big 12 portion of the schedule. Guards Gary Browne and Juwan Staten had 17 — for Browne it was a career best — and Deniz Kilicli added 10.

For Jeff Neubauer’s Colonels (10-3), gunner Glenn Cosey knocked down a game-high 21 points. Mike DiNunno and reserve Orlando Williams chipped in with 10 apiece.

Cosey (8 of 14) threw in 5 of 10 3-point shots. It was the long bombs that brought the visiting Colonels back after they trailed by 16 points 2 minutes after intermission.

From 1:45 of the first half to 17:43 of the second half, the Colonels hit four straight 3-points shots to give them their only points of the span. Cosey hit the last two triples of the first half.

In the first half, the Colonels mustered only 3 of 10 from distance as they shot a poor 27.6 percent (8 of 29) from the field. It was West Virginia’s second-best 3-point defense, in terms of percentage, for the season.

Eastern Kentucky connected on 11 of 26 (44.6 percent) versus 20 of 49 made shots (40.8 percent) for WVU for the game. The Mountaineers missed 10 of 12 3s in the second half.

The difference for West Virginia came at the foul line, where, coming in, it was hitting a respectable 70.2 percent from the line.

“We just need to continue playing 40 minutes.  We came out tough and played great defense, made shots and I thought we were going to put them away early, but we let them creep back in it in the second half and we had to grind it out.  We just have to put two halves together,” said Staten, who came just shy of his career-high 18 points.

“Free throw shooting was great for us.  It’s something that we’ve been concentrating a lot on in practice every day. We make sure that we shoot 100 in practice and if we get to practice early, we make sure we shoot extra free throws.”

Against EKU, WVU knocked in 32 of 39 of the foul shots (82.1 percent). The Colonels bagged 6 of 11 (54.5 percent).

Eastern Kentucky chose to put the Mountaineers on the line in the game’s final 10  1/2 minutes and the home team returned fire, making 90 percent (18 of 20) of then. Of those 18 points, Browne contributed six from the line. Reserve center Dominique Rutledge contributed five.

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