This wasn’t the game West Virginia University wanted for its birthday after being established as the Mountain State’s state university in 1867.
Rico Gathers notched his 12th double-double of the season with 17 points and 16 rebounds to lead No. 19 Baylor to an 87-69 victory over No. 15 West Virginia Saturday at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown. Royce O’Neale and Taurean Prince each added 15 points and a combined 11 rebounds for the Bears’ third-straight win.
Devin Williams scored a game-high 20 points and 15 rebounds in the West Virginia loss, while Jevon Carter scored 13 with Daxter Miles, Jr adding 10 for the Mountaineers.
Baylor opened the game with a 13-3 run that saw the Bears’ O’Neale, Kenny Chery and Lester Medford hit deep three-pointers that quickly took the air out of the WVU Coliseum, as a Devin Williams’ basket and Daxter Miles’ foul shot was the only offense West Virginia could find in the early moments.
Chery finished the game with 11 points, and Medford chipped in with seven for Baylor.
Baylor extended their lead to 23-3, a 21-point run since the foul shot by Miles, before West Virginia scored their fourth point on a Williams’ foul shot, and quickly added another two points by Tarik Phillips after forcing a Baylor turnover to close the lead to 23-6. Rico Gathers silenced the West Virginia crowd by going on a 6-2 run by himself after the basket by Phillips, and give Baylor a 29-8 lead over the Mountaineers with less than nine minutes in the first half.
A pair of Juwan Staten free throws started a 12-5 run to bring West Virginia within 14 points over Baylor at 35-21, as the Mountaineers’ full court press finally began to catch up and force some turnovers by the Bears.
Baylor entered the locker room at halftime with a 46-30 lead after West Virginia went on a 7-3 run over the final two minutes, capped by a Jevon Carter three-pointer with eight seconds left in the half.
Just like the beginning of the game, Baylor was able to break the West Virginia press defense to score and keep the Mountaineers’ offense off balance with their zone defense through the second half. Williams tried to bring West Virginia back into the game down the stretch with 13 points in the second half, but Carter, who scored 13 in the first half, couldn’t add another point in second half to help the Mountaineers.
Baylor shot 55 percent from the field, and continued their dominance in pulling down rebounds with a 15-rebound advantage in defensive rebounds as well as a 43-35 advantage in total rebounds against West Virginia.
The Mountaineers travel to Waco to face Baylor on the second half of their home-and-home series on March 3, and look to avenge Saturday’s home loss before Big 12 and NCAA postseason play begins later that month.
Before that, West Virginia returns to Morgantown Wednesday to face a sliding Kansas State, who is currently in the midst of a three-game losing streak starting with their 65-59 loss to the Mountaineers in Manhattan back on January 27.
Wednesday’s game will start at 7 p.m. at the WVU Coliseum, and will have live coverage by ESPNU with radio coverage by the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG.