A blocked 3-point attempt by Juwan Staten allowed the Bears to escape the WVU Coliseum with a 65-62 victory.
“This has become the story of our lives,” Staten said. “We get it to the end, but a couple of mistakes here or there, and that ended up costing us the game.”
WVU has yet to beat a team in the top half of the Big 12 with nobody left on the schedule with a worse record than the Mountaineers.
The Mountaineers fell to 13-15 on the season and 6-9 in the Big 12. It travels to No. 6 Kansas on Saturday.
“We fought harder than we did in the last game. The outcome still isn’t what we want, though,” said forward Kevin Noreen. “
Freshman guard Eron Harris finished with a career-high 25 points in the loss. He hit 10-of-13 free throws.
“We were just trying to run a high ball screen at the end, put our shooters in the corner, drive it and kick it to our shooters, but we just never got to it,” Staten said of the last play of the game. “[Staten] just didn’t see me.”
The Mountaineers, after shooting 44.4 percent in the first half, could only manage to shoot 27.6 percent in the second half. WVU made just eight shots in the second half.
“I thought we did a good job executing down the stretch. We got some good shots,” said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. “We just didn’t make them.”
Baylor was led by center Isaiah Austin who had 21 points. Guards Pierre Jackson and A.J. Walton combined to add 25 points.
“I thought he was looking for shots and drove the ball better,” said Baylor head coach Scott Drew of Austin. “He played like he did at the beginning of the year.”
Player of the Game
10-of-13 free throws
Noreen, who finished with 10 points, hit a three with less than three minutes to play to make it a 63-62 game.
“I really thought we had this game. I thought we did. Kevin hit that big three and we went down one. I had a lot of hope,” Harris said. “We just have to finish.”
WVU forced a missed shot on the next possession and called a timeout. After the ball was tipped out of bounds, Harris missed a fall-away jumper, but Noreen corralled the rebound. The Mountaineers called another timeout with 32.9 seconds to play.
Harris pump faked and threw up a three with less than 20 seconds left, and he was forced to foul Jackson with 17.9 seconds to play.
Jackson hit both free throws to make it 65-62.
Staten took a contested three, which was blocked, to end the game, and the Mountaineers fell short again.
The two teams went back and forth – literally – through the first eight minutes of the game. Baylor and WVU exchanged baskets nearly each time down the floor, as not team had more than a two-point lead until nine minutes into the contest.
A jumper by Walton was followed by a dunk from Jefferson and three from Austin, who was hot in the first part of the first half, to put the Bears up 17-11.
WVU would make its way back with a 9-0 run sparked by four points from Henderson. The run was ended after a Hinds turnover led to a dunk by Austin on the other end. But, the Mountaineers wouldn’t be deterred after Hinds was taken out of the game and replaced by Staten.
West Virginia would make than 9-0 run a 15-4 run following a three from guard Terry Henderson and three free throws by Harris after being fouled on a 3-point attempt to make it 26-21 with less than four minutes to play.
For the first eight minutes of the second half, the Mountaineers were able to keep a consistent lead over Baylor. After grabbing a five-point lead at 48-43 on a jumper from Staten, the Bears ripped off four straight points and the Mountaineers’ defense started to show signs of inconsistency forcing a timeout from Huggins.
West Virginia spent the final 10 minutes of the game trying to mount a comeback. It wasn’t meant to be.
WVU had nearly double the second-chance points and had a 10-rebound advantage in the losing effort. It pulled in 21 offensive rebounds – six from Noreen.