From Staff Reports
North central West Virginia was the focus Monday as the area’s two biggest colleges — West Virginia and Fairmont State — got together at the WVU Coliseum before the final tune-up before the 2013-14 basketball season.
One of the area’s own stole the show.
Freshman Nathan Adrian, a Morgantown High School product, scored 21 points on the strength of six 3-pointers to lead WVU to an 89-70 exhibition win over the Fighting Falcons, who had to travel less than 30 miles for the game.
“I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I’d be,” said Adrian. “Once the game started, we were fine.”
Although Adrian was perhaps the biggest surprise, and the talk of the hometown fans, he wasn’t the Mountaineers’ leading scorer. That distinction belonged to sophomore guard Eron Harris, WVU’s leading returning point producer. Harris scored a game-best 30 points, getting 15 from the free-throw line, where WVU found 35 points.
Junior guards Gary Brown and Juwan Staten also ended the night in double figures. Brown came off the bench for 18 points, four rebounds and three assists, while Staten added 13 points and three assists. He was 7 for 9 from the charity stripe.
“I plan to get to the free-throw line a lot more this year than I did last year,” said Staten. “I know that any type of contact is now a foul, so I need to get to the line.”
With sophomore guard Terry Henderson out with a shin injury, Elijah Macon and Jonathan Holton still ineligible and Remi Dibo playing just two minutes, still recovering from knee surgery, WVU played the game without a deep bench. Browne, Harris, Staten, Adrian and freshman forward Devin Williams, who scored just four points but grabbed 14 rebounds, all played at least 26 minutes.
Former Shady Spring High School star Chase Connor, a freshman walk-on, also saw more minutes than expected. He played 18 of the 40 minutes, scoring three points, grabbing a rebound and dishing out an assist. He was 1 for 5 from 3-point range.
The story of the game, though, was the fouls. FSU was whistled for a school-record 40 infractions, with five players fouling out of the game. WVU was called for 23 fouls, keeping the game from reaching any real rhythm.
Almost all of the Mountaineers’ points came from the line or the perimeter. They were outscored, in fact, 34-10 in the paint, but they were 12 for 27 from 3-point range.
“We’ve got some pretty good shooters,” said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. “I think we’re going to be a better perimeter team than we’ve been in a while.”
The visitors, coached by former Huggins assistant Jerrod Calhoun and assisted by former WVU star Joe Mazzula, were led by forward Stevie Browning, who scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Caleb Davis was the other double-figure scorer with 13 points to go along with five boards.
Wyoming East HIgh School graduate Chase Morgan played 19 minutes off the bench for the Falcons, scoring two points and grabbing three rebounds.
WVU will open the regular season Friday at home against Mount St. Mary’s. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.
The Mountaineers will hit the road for the first time a week from today, taking on Virginia Tech at 1 p.m. in Blacksburg, Va. That game will air live on ESPN.