West Virginia defeats Missouri State in game of spurts


West Virginia pulled away late in the game to defeat Missouri State 67-59 and give Josh Eilert his first victory as the Mountaineers’ head coach on Monday night in Morgantown, W.Va.

With 41 seconds remaining, Missouri State’s Chance Moore converted on a 3-pointer that cut West Virginia’s lead to 61-59. But West Virginia scored twice in the span of 24 seconds and forced a trio of missed 3-pointers from Missouri State, sealing the victory.

Quinn Slazinski led West Virginia with 18 points, and Jesse Edwards added 13 points and 13 rebounds. Moore led Missouri State’s offensive effort with 24 points.

Despite shooting just 12.5 percent from the field in the first half, West Virginia began the second half on a 12-3 scoring run. Kobe Johnson converted a short-range jumper, tying the score at 33-33, and Slazinski swished a 3-pointer for the Mountaineers’ first lead since the 9:25 mark of the first period.

Missouri State tied the score twice once the Mountaineers took the lead but never surpassed them as the second half progressed. Ofri Naveh’s 3-pointer with 13:49 remaining sparked a 9-2 spurt from the Mountaineers, adding to West Virginia’s momentum. Alston Mason’s 3-pointer for Missouri State cut the Mountaineer lead to five, 51-46, with 8:46 left, but six unanswered points from West Virginia extended the margin to 11.

But Missouri State fought back and ran off an 8-0 spurt to trail 57-54 with 2:31 remaining, capped by a Moore 3-pointer. Missouri State came within two points before the Mountaineers pulled away.

A 10-0 run gave West Virginia an early 15-4 lead in the first half, but an 11-0 spurt from Missouri State, including a Moore 3-pointer, tied the score at 15-15. Damien Mayo Jr.’s layup at the 6:00 mark gave Missouri State a 22-17 lead as the Bears scored seven of the next nine points.

Edwards’ layup with 14:07 was the last field goal for West Virginia until halftime, as the Mountaineers closed the opening period with 21 straight missed shots. Three free throws from Slazinski cut Missouri State’s lead to 25-23 with 1:44 remaining, but 14 seconds later, Mason countered with a 3-pointer for the Bears to help Missouri State its six-point halftime lead.