By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
It took more than 36 minutes for West Virginia to obtain the lead in Saturday night's Capital Classic men's matchup with Marshall.
Once the Mountaineers did, Juwan Staten made sure it stayed that way.
Staten's old-fashioned three-point play with 3:41 left put WVU ahead 63-62, to a loud cheer from the Mountaineer faithful, and West Virginia went on to claim a 74-64 victory in the intrastate clash with the Thundering Herd at the Charleston Civic Center.
“I've got a world of confidence (in him),” West Virginia (7-4) head coach Bob Huggins said about Staten. “I think if we give him the ball, we're going to get a shot. Maybe it won't be him, but he'll get it to somebody else.”
Staten said, “My teammates trusted me. They put the ball in my hands and I wanted to use it to the best of my ability.”
Staten was the game's top scorer with 19 points, and he added four assists and six rebounds.
A teammate off the bench, Brandon Watkins, was named the Edgar O. Barrett Most Outstanding Player of the Game after contributing 12 points, 11 rebounds and two steals. He was a key contributor in the middle of the second half, both with rebounds and baskets, as WVU attempted to keep Marshall from running away with the game.
Watkins said, “They called on me, so I've got to be ready. … At halftime, Hugs (Huggins) really got on us. When I got out there, I knew I've got to be prepared to rebound, get the stickbacks and put it in the basket.”
Huggins said, “He scored a little bit around the rim, and he changes shots. He does do that for us.”
The Herd never trailed in the first half, pulling out to their largest lead at 13-6 on a three-pointer from the corner by Shawn Smith about six minutes into the game.
Staten brought WVU within one point, 30-29, on a jumper from the line with 2:30 left in the half. Another trey by Marshall's Smith restored a four-point lead and West Virginia's only other points of the half came from a pair of foul shots by Eron Harris.
At the half, Marshall had six steals and West Virginia had already committed 11 turnovers. The Herd had hit half of their field-goal tries (12 for 24) and made 4 of 5 free throws, while WVU hit 2 of 6 from the foul line and made 14 of 34 from the floor.
The Mountaineers tied the game twice early in the second half, but could not get a lead until the stretch run at the end.
Marshall head coach Tom Herrion said, “We had some critical turnovers on forced drives. … Our youth really shows at the wrong times. … We've got to finish. We've got to put the ball in the basket. We've got to play stronger.”
“I'm just disappointed for our kids. But we beat ourselves. We beat ourselves, clearly.”
“We battled. We played hard. It was a great effort, but we just didn't get it done tonight.”
A poor performance in the second half at the foul line hampered Marshall. The Herd made 8 of 18 free throws while the Mountaineers went 16 of 23.
Freshman Kareem Canty was a bright spot for the Thundering Herd, scoring 16 points with nine assists and three steals. Chris Thomas and TyQuane Goard both scored 11 points for Marshall (4-6).
Huggins improved to 7-1 against Marshall, and the Mountaineers have now won seven of their last eight games with the Herd.
— Contact Tom Bone at firstname.lastname@example.org