Men’s basketball overpowered by no. 9 West Virginia, lose 73-51


Sarah Olender

Sophomore guard Tyson Walker and the Huskies had a rough day at no. 9 West Virginia.

Eamonn Ryan, deputy sports editor

In their sixth and final non-conference game of the season, the Huskies (1-5, 0-0 CAA) were dominated by West Virginia (8-2, 1-1 Big 12) at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, W.Va. The Mountaineers took the lead early on in the first half and never gave it up, denying the Huskies any offensive opportunities and punishing them in the paint on the other end.

For the Huskies, sophomore guards Quirin Emanga and Tyson Walker finished as the high scorers with 13 points and ten points, respectively, but they were the only two to reach double figures. Emanga, who has not been a large factor in the lineup this season, played nineteen minutes today and was a bright spot for the team.

“[Emanga] played a little bit of the four for us today,” head coach Bill Coen said. “I know he scored some points but I’m most proud of his defensive effort and his toughness. He took three charges and he battled and those are winning basketball plays and in CAA you’re gonna need somebody who’s gonna step up and make those plays.”

The Mountaineers are one of the premier teams in the nation and are led by junior forward Derek Culver, who had 18 points, and sophomore forward Oscar Tshiebwe, who dominated the paint with 12 points and 15 rebounds. Overall, West Virginia dominated the paint, with 50 points in the paint compared to the Huskies’ 20, and 45 rebounds to 34. 

“They got a big front line,” Coen said. “[Their forwards] aren’t moving around, they’re located at the weak side block, it’s hard to move ‘em, but…[freshman forward] Alexander Nwagha came in and gave us some good minutes rebounding the ball and going up and competing.”

At the halfway point, the Huskies were down by eight. Walker then cut the lead to three on two quick baskets at the start of the second half, but the Mountaineers held them to just eight points over the next ten minutes and extended their lead by pounding the paint. The Huskies coughed up the ball 19 times, five of which came from Walker. 

“There’s no secret — we need to develop that side of our game, we need to take better care of the basketball,” Coen said. “We gotta get [the number of turnovers] under 15 consistently when we enter CAA play.”

Besides the contributions from Emanga and the bench, the Huskies had a tough time scoring, only converting on 33.3% of their field goals and just 29.2% of their threes. During the game, Coach Coen wasn’t necessarily focused on the execution of the team — rather he was more interested in their effort and determination.

“There are certainly things we can draw on heading into conference play,” Coen said. “I was pleased about our effort. We were a little light on execution at times but our effort was there consistently and that’s what I’m most proud of.”

The Huskies have had a difficult non-conference slate, with three Power Five schools and a four-game road stand, adding the Mountaineers made it no easier. This year, they have the 17th-hardest schedule in all of Division I according to the College Basketball Power Index, which is 58 places higher than the rest of their CAA opponents. 

The Huskies will begin CAA play this weekend with a back-to-back series at home in Boston against Elon Jan. 2 and 3, with their ultimate goal being a conference championship. To achieve that goal, Coen said that execution of the game plan will be key.

“We gotta be able to execute on offense, share the basketball, get assisted baskets and take better care of the basketball,” Coen said. “If we’re getting assisted baskets, we’re under 15 turnovers and we’re getting 75 or higher percent of the rebounds on our glass, we’re in good shape.”