Mid-March is annually the Holy days of college basketball. But in 2020, the gyms are silent and the NCAA Tournament will not be played for the first time since its inception in 1939. We will never know what would have been for the 2020 West Virginia Mountaineers in their quest for One Shining Moment. In it’s place, let’s use the Wayback Machine to look back at the best tournament games for the Mountaineers. We are selecting the best WVU game for each round of the tournament – Round of 64, Round of 32, Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final Four and National Championship Game. Each day will feature a new top WVU NCAA Tournament game, culminating with the finals.
Part 3 of 6: Sweet 16
1959 East Regional; Charlotte, N.C.
West Virginia 95, St. Joseph’s 92
Two amazing stats stand out when looking at the 1959 East Regional semifinal game between WVU and St. Joseph’s at Charlotte, N.C.
One is how incredible it was that the two teams combined to score 187 points in a game without a shot clock or 3-point line.
The other is to marvel at the otherworldly performance of WVU’s Jerry West.
West finished with a double-double, scoring 36 points and pulling down 15 rebounds. It’s hard to overstate how much of a one-man wrecking crew West was generally and especially in this game.
Zeke from Cabin Creek wasn’t just the game’s high scorer. He outscored the rest of the Mountaineers starting lineup, combined, 36-34. He was the only Mountaineer in double-figures in rebounding. Bench players James Ritchie and Lee Patrone had eight boards each.
Here is another stat illustrating how much West carried the Mountaineers on this night. West shot 12-for-22 (54.5 percent) from the field in the regional semifinal win over the Hawks. The rest of the team hit 27.1 percent. West played 37 of the games 40 minutes.
St. Joseph’s led, 48-42, at the half but West and the Mountaineers offense was a scoring machine in the second stanza as the Mountaineers rallied for victory. The Mountaineers were the Cardiac Kids in 1959. The rally against the Hawks was one of 14 come-from-behind victories for the national finalist Mountaineers.
St. Joseph’s was ravaged by foul problems in the game. Four of the Hawks starters and five St. Joe’s players overall fouled out of the contest.
Four Mountaineers hit double-figure scoring – West, Patrone (13), Willie Akers (13) and Bucky Bolyard (10). WVU’s Akers and Bob Clousson each had four personal fouls but each avoided picking up his fifth.
St. Joseph’s Joe Gallo was the only Hawks starter not to foul out. He led St. Joseph’s with a team-high 22 points. Joe Spratt (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Bob Clarke (15 points, 13 rebounds) each tallied double-doubles despite fouling out in the loss.
St. Joseph’s got the bye into the regional semifinals. WVU beat Dartmouth, 82-68, in New York in the opening round to advance to the regionals in Charlotte.
Runner up: 2005 (7) WVU 65, (6)Texas Tech 60