By GARY FAUBER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Juwan Staten placed the ball perfectly, and Deniz Kilicli finished the alley-oop with a powerful two-handed dunk.
It was the perfect ending for West Virginia’s 69-59 win over Marshall Wednesday at the annual Capital Classic at the Civic Center Coliseum. Perfect for no other reason than this was closer to the type of performance Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins expects from his senior forward.
Kilicli, a 6-foot-9, 260-pound Turkey native who played at Mountain State Academy, was named his team’s player of the game after finishing with a game-high 21 points. He was 7 of 8 at the line.
It wasn’t a perfect night, but Kilicli, who has struggled out of the gate for 3-3 West Virginia, at least made a favorable impression.
“It was the kind of game we’re hoping for,” said Huggins. “Honestly — and I’m not being critical — but I think he would echo that. He missed a lot of shots that he normally makes.”
Getting the ball to Kilicli, averaging 8.2 points going in, was part of the plan for the Mountaineers. He took 19 shots, but missed 12 of them.
“I thought we got him the ball a lot better,” Huggins said. “He should do a better job finishing around the rim.”
“I think I play pretty well,” Kilicli said. “I think (Huggins) would want me to cut the turnovers a little bit and maybe get a few more rebounds. But other than that I think I did all right. At least I won’t get my butt chewed out tongiht.”
The game will be remembered more for a scrum that resulted in five player ejections with 1:37 to play.
After a layup by Kilicli put WVU ahead 61-54, Marshall’s Robert Goff was whistled and ejected for a flagrant foul in front of the Mountaineer bench. WVU’s Jabarie Hinds, Eron Harris, Terry Henderson and Aaric Murray were all tossed for leaving the bench.
Neither Huggins nor Marshall coach Tom Herrion would comment on the play directly. Huggins said it was explained to him by the officials that none of the ejected players will have to miss their teams’ next games — WVU at home Saturday against Virginia Tech and Marshall against Coppin State, also at home Saturday.
“Really, I’m still a little befuddled on the whole thing, to be honest with you,” Herrion said. “I’m going to get a grasp on it and talk to the coordinator of officials on the ride home tonight. A little of that is still hard for me to understand how it all unfolded.”
Marshall (5-4) led most of the first half, although never by more than seven. WVU started to narrow the gap, and a 6-0 run tied the game at 19-19 with 5:11 to play before halftime.
Marshall went back ahead by five, 24-19, on a 3-pointer by D.D. Scarver and a pair of made free throws — a scarcity for the Herd on this night — by Dennis Tinnon.
But the Mountaineers closed out the half on a 12-1 run to take a 31-25 lead into the break.
WVU held the lead the entire second half, never letting the Herd closer than five.
The Herd was outrebounded — normally a hallmark of Herrion’s teams — 43-35.
Herrion also lamented Marshall’s 13 first-half turnovers and his team’s performance at the free-throw line — Marshall was 12 of 22, while the Mountaineers made 24 of 30.
“When you are behind in the second half, you can’t have empry possessions,” Herrion said. “We went to the foul line and didn’t convert.”
Marshall’s player of the game, DeAndre Kane had 13 points and seven assists. Scarver led the way in scoring with 17 points and Elijah Pittman added 16.
WVU got 12 points from Staten and 10 rebounds from Murray.