Turnovers and a controversial foul call with five seconds left combined to send West Virginia to its first loss of the season in a 70-68 loss to St. John’s at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The Mountaineers (7-1) went on a 9-0 run over the 3:29 late in the second half to wipe out the Red Storm’s (8-2) nine-point lead and tie the game at 68. WVU had a chance to take the lead with 27 second left, but Taz Sherman’s 12-foot jumper was off. Derek Culver for the offensive rebound for the Mountaineers but St. John’s stole the ball, giving the Red Storm a chance to win the game in regulation.
St. John’s Rasheem Dunn drove towards the left side of the basket and appeared to slip on the drive as Culver stepped in to defend. Despite the slip, Culver was called for his fifth foul, disqualifying him from the game and putting Dunn on the line. Dunn hit both shots, giving St. John’s a 70-68 lead with five seconds left.
Miles McBride pushed the ball down the court and had a shot to send the game to overtime, but his shot was off and the Mountaineers tasted defeat for the first time this season.
St. John’s forced the Mountaineers into a season-high 22 turnovers and WVU played from behind most of the second half. The Red Storm was able to use the Mountaineers turnovers to overcome a poor shooting effort, hitting just 32.9 percent from the field.
Sean McNeil led the Mountaineers thwarted comeback, scoring a team-high 13-points and hitting 4-of-7 3-point shots. Culver again was strong for WVU, tallying a double-double with 12 points and a game-high 18 rebounds. Freshman Oscar Tshiewbe had eight points for six rebounds for the Mountaineers.
L.J. Figueroa led St. John’s with a game-high 17 points, all in the first half. Figueroa missed time in the second half with four fouls.
West Virginia looks to get back on the winning track Thursday when the Mountaineers host Austin Peay.