West Virginia struggled to find consistency all season. And in its first game of the NCAA tournament, nothing changed.
Gonzaga held West Virginia to 31 percent shooting, Robert Sacre led four players in double figures and the Bulldogs defeated the Mountaineers 77-54 on Thursday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament at the Consol Energy Center.
"Of all my years here, this has been the roughest year," said West Virginia senior guard Truck Bryant. "It's never happened to us before. We just got out-toughed tonight."
The Mountaineers made just six field goals in the first half, trailed by 18 at the half and were never able to surmount a comeback.
West Virginia made just 3 of its 17 three-point attempts, while Gonzaga connected on 9-of-17.
"This is the worst defensive team I've ever had in 30 years," said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins. "We don't give help. We don't get to loose balls. We just don't do the things that we've been doing for years and years."
Gonzaga hit three of its first four three-point attempts and was able to quickly gain an 11-6 advantage. The Bulldogs also used pressure defensively to force the Mountaineers to take difficult shots.
Gonzaga continued to make outside shots and force turnovers and suddenly held its largest lead of the game, 27-10, midway through the first half.
West Virginia went more than six minutes without scoring and the Bulldogs showed no struggles on the offensive end of the floor.
The Mountaineers made just six field goals in the first half and shot 23 percent from the field.
"It was frustrating," Jones said. "That was probably one of the best jobs that a team has done on me, as far as team defense. It was definitely frustrating."
The Bulldogs, however, made half of their shots, led by as many as 20 and took a 40-22 lead into the locker room.
West Virginia senior forward Kevin Jones led the Mountaineers with seven first-half points.
Both teams traded buckets early in the second half, which made it difficult for the Mountaineers to cut into the deficit.
However, the Bulldogs began to find their rhythm.
Junior forward Elias Harris banked in a three-pointer to give Gonzaga a 57-31 advantage with 13 minutes remaining in the game, and ended any hope of a West Virginia comeback.
Freshman guard Gary Browne led the Mountaineers with 15 points.
Kevin Jones was held to 13 points and four rebounds in his final game in a West Virginia uniform, while Truck Bryant shot just 2-10 from the floor and finished with nine points.
Huggins and Jones took a moment after the game to reflect on the career of Jones.
"Kevin Jones is as good a person as I've ever been around in my life," Huggins said. "He has made such great strides as a player because he works."
"I matured as a man on and off the court," Jones said. "Coach Huggins taught me a lot. I just benefited a lot from coming back this year."