It wasn't easy, but West Virginia (16-8, 6-5) battled back to score a much needed win, snapping a three-game losing streak in the process Sunday afternoon defeating Providence (13-11, 2-9) 87-84 in overtime inside the Dunkin' Donuts Center.
Senior guard Darryl Bryant connected on a three-pointer from the top of the key with three seconds left on the clock after initially hitting the layup that sent the game into overtime. Bryant finished with 32-points on 11 of 22 from the field, falling just short of his career high 34-points that he set earlier this season against Villanova.
The Mountaineers trailed for much of the game after leading early in the contest and battled back to tie the game in the final seconds of regulation and then recaptured the lead for the first time in beginning stages of overtime. Also scoring in double figures for the Mountaineers were junior center Deniz Kilicli with a career high 22-points and 6-rebounds and senior forward Kevin Jones added 20 and 5.
The Friars were led by career-high 30-points by Gerard Coleman, while LaDontae Henton scored 17, Vincent Council 16 and Bryce Cotton 15 points respectively.
The Mountaineers finished the game shooting 47-percent from the floor, and connected on hit 15 of their 18 attempts from the foul line.
The Friars got off to a torrid start hitting 14 of their first 16 from the field and jumping out to a lead as large as 15-points during the first half. For the first half, the Friars finished shooting 63-percent (17-27) from the field, to go along with 62.5-percent (5-8) from beyond the arc.
However, at halftime the Providence advantage stood at only six points at 42-36, as the Mountaineers rallied during the final eight minutes of the half. The Mountaineers struggled with their shot early in the contest, and finished the half shooting 40.7 percent from the field and only 30.8 percent from three.
The Mountaineers led early at 5-2, but the Friars quickly pushed that advantage out to 17-9 on the heels of excellent early shooting. A Gary Browne three cut the deficit to 17-12, but the Friars used both their transition game and the three-ball to push that advantage out to the largest of the half at 32-17 with less than eight minutes left to play.
From there, West Virginia began to trim the lead cutting it to 34-24 with five minutes in the half, and then to eight points at 36-28 with 3:08 left before the break especially clamping down at the defensive end and making it harder for Providence to get to the rim.
Kilicli was especially active scoring 11-first half points and grabbing a pair of rebounds, establishing himself in the post to get easy looks and connecting on his free throw attempts.
An Aaron Brown three-pointer put the score at 37-31, and after exchanging baskets, a Bryant three had the advantage all the way down to a single possession at 39-36 in the closing moments of the half. But that was short lived, as Cotton connected on his second three of the half to give the Friars a 42-36 halftime lead.
Henton hit his fourth three of the game to open up the half to push the Friars lead back out to nine points, but Bryant hit a three of his own to bring the score back to six at 45-39. A Coleman layup and a pair of free throws had pushed the advantage back into double figures at 49-39 in the early stages of the second half.
Bryant continued his sharp shooting hitting his fourth three of the game and a jumper from the right baseline to trim the Providence lead in half at 49-44 only four and a half minutes into the second half.
The senior guard connected on his 10th points of the second half on a runner to cut the lead to only two, and after Council hit a three pointer, Bryant trimmed that lead back down to a deuce at 53-51 with a layup and a free throw.
Four straight Providence points gave the Friars some breathing room at 57-51 with 12:20 left to play as they were able to get out in transition and attack the basket.
Coleman matched his career high with 21-points with 11:20 left in the half on two free-throws to give the Friars a seven-point lead, but Jones hit a layup to cut the score down to five. However, a bad pass in transition on the ensuing Mountaineers possession was stolen by the Friars and they were able to hit a three to push the advantage back out to 62-54 with under 10 minutes remaining.
The advantage see-sawed between five and seven points over the next four minutes and change, as the Friars eyed a 70-63 lead with only 5:29 left in the game.
However, the lead was once again trimmed to a single possession at three points after 70-67 with over four minutes remaining on the heels of four-straight Bryant points.
And the Mountaineers battled back down a single point 70-69 with only three minutes left to play after a crazy sequence that involved a turnover, a missed layup, and then a flurry of activity on the Mountaineers end of the court until the ball was eventually tipped in by Kilicli.
The teams traded free throws to keep the score at a point at 71-70, with two and a half minutes remaining, and another free throw by Coleman pushed the score back to a two-point lead. The score was all evened up at 72-all with 1:43 left when Kilicli got into the lane, stepping in between two people to put a soft rolling layup through the hoop to force the first tie since early in the first half.
But that tie was short lived as Coleman got into the lane and missed layup, but followed his own miss for another short attempt to put the Friars up two with just over a minute left in the game. And on the ensuing possession the Mountaineers attempted to go high-low with Jones, but once things didn't open, Jones popped out for a three-point attempt that clanked off the rim.
After Council free-throw, Huggins took another timeout to set up another possession with 26.6 remaining and trailing 75-72. Bryant got free for a look from the elbow, but missed, however Jones put the ball back on an offensive rebound to cut the deficit to a single point. Coleman hit one of two ensuing free throw attempts, and Bryant then knifed through the Providence defense taking the ball the length of the court for game-tying layup with only four seconds remaining. The final attempt by Council fell harmlessly off the rim, and the game went to overtime.
In the extra period, Kilicli gave the Mountaineers their first lead since 7-6 in the first half at 78-76 on a hook shot from the paint scoring his 20th point of the game, a new career high.
The teams then traded baskets to put the score at 82-80 with just over two-minutes left in the first overtime period. However, Henton connected on his fifth three of the game and pushed the Friars up one. Kilicli once again went to work in the paint hitting a hook shot to put the Mountaineers back out front 84-83.
Providence got the ball back with just over 23 seconds left, and Coleman once again got to the rim and missed a layup attempt, but got his own rebound and was fouled on the way up with just 10.9 seconds left. But once again he was only able to connect on one of two to tie the game at 84-all.
Bryant then stepped up once again hitting a three pointer from the top of the key to give the Mountaineers a three-point lead with only 3.4 seconds left in the game. Providence's last attempt bounced off the rim, and the Mountaineers snapped their losing streak at three games.
The Mountaineers will host Notre Dame Wednesday night at 9 p.m.