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March 9, 2013

WVU falls short of comeback on Senior Day





Although the careers of Deniz Kilicli, Matt Humphrey and Dominique Rutledge coming to a close, the West Virginia Mountaineers were unable to send the three seniors out on a high note.

After starting the game off in the worst possible manner, falling behind as much as 27 points during the game, the Mountaineers managed to rally back into contention, cutting the deficit to four with one minute remaining.

But a late game push by the Cyclones sent them back to Ames, IA with a 83-74 victory Saturday at the WVU Coliseum.
Tempo proved the be the ultimate factor early on for both squads, as the Mountaineers and Cyclones focused a bulk of their offense on quick three point attempts.

And as with much of the season, West Virginia struggled to find the bottom of the net. The Mountaineers went 1-7 from three in the first four minutes of the contest, with the lone three coming from Eron Harris.

Meanwhile, Iowa State showed why they are one of the top offensive powers in the Big 12, going 3-5 from beyond the arc to take an early 11-3 lead at the first media timeout.

The Cyclones would not relent exiting the timeout, continuing to focus heavily on their outside game. A corner trifecta by Iowa State's Chris Babb, answering a jumper by Juwan Staten on the other end, extended the Cyclone's lead to 11.
It would take a big play on Senior Day by Deniz Kilicli to try and spark a run for the struggling Mountaineers.

Showcasing his rarely-utilized agility, Kilicli took the ball at the top of the key, spun around a Cyclone's defender in the lane and slammed the ball in with authority, cutting the deficit to single-digits.

But the despite the impressive theatrics of Kilicli, the Mountaineers could not find a way to stop the hot-shooting Cyclones. Another three pointer by Korie Lucious, his third of the game, put Iowa State up 25-10 with ten minutes remaining in the half.

A brief 6-0 run for the Mountaineers cut the lead back into manageable territory, putting the home team down nine, but as with much of the game the Cyclones were too much to handle on offense.

A corner three pointer from Iowa State's Tyrus McGee broke the Mountaineer's run and sparked another streak from beyond the arc for the Cyclones, going 7-11 from three.

Conversely, the Mountaineers went an ice cold 1-11 from beyond the arc, helping Iowa State jump out to a 33-16 lead at the under 8:00 media timeout.

The Cyclones would jump out to a 20 point lead - 36-16 - before West Virginia came back alive once again. In a game of streaks, the Mountaineers put together a mini 4-0 run, briefly breaking Iowa State's consistent stride.

A dish from Eron Harris to Kevin Noreen allowed the sophomore forward to lay the ball up and under the basket for two. Coupled with a driving layup for Jabarie Hinds, the Mountaineers managed to cut the deficit briefly to 16.

But the momentum would not hold for the Old Gold and Blue. A pair of layups from McGee and Will Clyburn gave the Cyclones another 20 point advantage at the final media timeout, 40-20.

West Virginia closed out the half with more sloppy play, committing a shot clock violation and looking lost at times on offense. Meanwhile, the Cyclones continued the strong outside shooting, with a three from Anthony Booker, to give them a 44-20 halftime lead.

Hoping to gather some inspiration from Saturday's halftime show, the Mountaineers searched for a 'quick change' to begin the second half.

In his final game in the Coliseum, senior Matt Humphrey took control of West Virginia's offense from beyond the arc, connecting on two quick three point attempts in the first four minutes of the half.

However, the production from Humphrey was not enough to fully counter the success Iowa State continued to have on offense. During the same span, the Cyclones racked up three baskets from beyond the arc, giving them a 55-28 lead at the first media timeout.

After struggling to find a rhythm throughout much of the game, the Mountaineers finally managed to put together a strong 10-0 run, sparked by eight points from Jabarie Hinds. The sophomore guard put the Mountaineers on his back offensively, connecting on a pair of threes and a layup, cutting West Virginia's deficit, 55-38, before the Mountaineers called a timeout.
The run did not stop for West Virginia exiting the timeout, with Aaric Murray making his presence felt. The junior big man, who is known to pop for an outside shot on occasions, connected on an off-balance three from the top of the key to cut into Iowa State's lead yet again.

But with such a hot-shooting squad, it is hard to keep the Cyclones down for long. Iowa State's Georges Niang ended the Mountaineer's 13-0 run, knocking down a corner three prior to the media timeout. Both teams then headed for their benches with 11:42 remaining and Iowa State holding a 58-41 lead.

The Mountaineers continued to rely heavily on Hinds for offensive output exiting the timeout, as the sophomore guard connected on a another pair of free throws to cut yet again into the deficit. A once mammoth 27 point Iowa State advantage was cut to a mere 10 points - 61-51.

Unfortunately, however, the Cyclones once again found their offensive stroke, racking off a quick five points heading into the under 8:00 media timeout to give them a 66-51 lead.

West Virginia found a little spark following the timeout from an unexpected source - Coach Huggins. After battling with the officials all afternoon, Huggins was finally pegged with a technical foul, giving the Cyclones two free throw attempts.

Following the foul, momentum shifted in the Mountaineer's favor. An unquestionable spark in energy erupted throughout the Coliseum, as West Virginia rallied with a 10-0 run to pulling within seven points of the Cyclones.
A dribble-drive layup from Humphrey, who along with Hinds and Murray sparked the recent run, coasted the Mountaineers into the final media timeout only down six points - 71-65.

But the Mountaineers could not get over that final hump. A foul by Kilicli on Iowa State's Clyburn as he was shooting a three shifted the momentum back into the Cyclone's favor, where it would remain until the final buzzer.

West Virginia would make one final push, with back-to-back Humphrey steals in the front court with a little over one minute remaining.

However, the Cyclones would not relent, sustaining West Virginia's final push en route to the win.

Final score: Iowa State 83, West Virginia 74.

The Mountaineers were led in scoring by Jabarie Hinds, who contributed 17 points in the effort. Eron Harris, Terry Henderson, Matt Humphrey and Aaric Murray also found themselves in double figures, scoring 11, 10, 11 and 11 points, respectively.

West Virginia will return to action next week in Kansas City at the Big 12 Conference Tournament.



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