The Mountaineers led 61-54 with 1:40 remaining when Kilicli scored on a putback lay-up. The forward fell over Marshall’s Robert Goff on the play before Goff and WVU point guard Juwan Staten became tangled. When Staten tried to step over Goff to head upcourt, Goff kicked at him. After the two players separated, Mountaineer guard Gary Browne pushed Goff, and that spurred an exchange of words in close proximity by all 10 players on the floor.
West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins and the three officials broke up the deteriorating situation, but not before Browne, Goff and MU’s Nigel Spikes were called for technical fouls. After reviewing the play, officials ejected Goff. WVU’s Terry Henderson, Eron Harris, Aaric Murray and Jabarie Hinds were also ejected for leaving the bench during the altercation.
“It’s a physical game, it’s going to get like that. I wasn’t surprised at all,” said Staten, who finished with 12 points, three assists and, for good measure, a technical of his own. “I knew what type of game it was coming in.”
Browne was awarded a pair of free throws as a result of the second Marshall technical, and hit both for a 63-54 lead with 1:37 left. Staten got fouled on an inbounds two possessions later and, with 51.5 seconds left, was hit with a technical of his own when he chose to continue the play and try to dunk the ball. Both teams hit a pair of free throws as a result, and 11 more seconds ran off the clock before Marshall’s Elijah Pittman was called for the game’s fifth and final technical in another brief exchange of words and shoves.
Kilicli and Brown each hit a free throw before Kilicli – one point shy of a career-high 22 set last season versus Providence – slammed home the Mountaineers’ final points to reach the 20-point plateau for just the second time in his career.
“It’s for the state, it’s for your fans,” said Kilicli, who wore a warm-up shirt with ‘Represent 304’ and a West Virginia state outline on the back.
Kilicli’s slam put a capper on the on-court action. But during the postgame handshakes, Marshall game MVP DeAndre Kane had to be pulled from the line and escorted off the floor and Marshall head coach Tom Herrion pulled the classic blow-by during the coaching handshakes.
“I’m not sure West Virginia beat us tonight,” Herrion said. “We contributed mightily. No disrespect.”
It was Marshall’s sixth loss to WVU in seven games. West Virginia (3-3) now leads the series 30-11 and has dominated the Herd (5-4) in the Civic Center.
“This isn’t Cincinnati-Xavier,” Huggins said. “The schools aren’t five minutes apart. It’s not a holy war in the city. I think, when the game’s over, a lot of our people root for them and a lot of their people root for us.”
Hinds added nine points for WVU and Murray scored seven and had 10 rebounds and changed multiple Marshall inside shots. The Mountaineers had a 36-18 points int eh paint advantage and scored 12 second chance points to Marshall’s two. D.D. Scarver led MU with 17 and Pittman added 16.
The game was competitive until late in the first half. Marshall jumped to a 19-13 lead on the strength of solid interior play and a pair of three-pointers. West Virginia, conversely, missed 13 of its first 17 shots, including a series of point blank attempts by Kilicli and Murray. The Mountaineers actually had more offensive rebounds (five) than it had field goals (four) with 11:30 left in the half.
But as Murray began to increasingly change Marshall inside shots, the Mountaineers’ total defensive intensity increased and led to six quick transition points. Murray hit a putback to tie the game at 19-19 with about five minutes left, then sandwiched a dunk and another putback around Hinds’ lay-up during a 6-0 run that gave West Virginia its first lead of the game at 25-24 with 2:46 left in the half.
The Mountaineers switched into a 1-3-1 zone for the remainder of the half. It immediately forced a held ball and a turnover. Marshall never got comfortable against the look, and West Virginia closed scoring 18 of the final 24 points of the half – including a 12-1 run going into the break. The Mountaineers held MU to just the six points over the last 7:30 and without a field goal in the final five minutes. The Herd did get within one in the second half, but couldn’t push over and retake the lead.
Note: West Virginia also won the cheerleader holding competition. Four one male-one female cheerleading teams from each school are used; each male cheerleaders hoists one female cheerleader each above their heads. The male-female team that holds the position longest wins the competition for their school. Marshall, in a typical move, also hoisted a fifth cheerleader held by four – four – female cheerleaders far away from the midcourt competition. Then, when the last WVU tandem voluntarily ended the competition after winning it, the Herd cheerleaders rushed back and pointed to their five-person team as though it had won. Nobody bought it, the Mountaineer band struck up the fight song and Marshall had another embarrassing effort against Flagship U.