WVU Falls to No. 10 Wisconsin in Cancun Title Game - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU Falls to No. 10 Wisconsin in Cancun Title Game


Bob Huggins said his team would need some statement wins after a bad loss to Virginia Tech earlier this season. Wednesday's title game of the Cancun Challenge would not be one of those wins.

The Mountaineers played with No. 10 Wisconsin, proving it belonged in the championship bout, but a poor showing at the free throw line stopped Huggins' squad from getting close enough to take the game. The Badgers took the title with a 70-63 win over WVU.

The championship game got off to a much quicker start than the previous night's semifinal matchup did, with both teams trading punches right from the opening tip. Juwan Staten showed immediately that he would make his mark on the outcome, knocking down his first jumper to get the scoring started just after gathering an offensive rebound.

Unwilling to be outdone, Wisconsin sophomore forward Sam Dekker got the Badgers offense going with half of the team's first 12 points scored before his teammates began following suit.

West Virginia had gotten their five wins this season by connecting on their shots, both on the perimeter and inside. Against Wisconsin, it was as though the basket had a lid on it and the Mountaineers couldn't get the ball to penetrate the rim.

In the first half, WVU struggled to connect from the field before Eron Harris came on strong with 14 before the break. The sophomore guard came out firing and with his team trailing by 17, he finally caught fire, connecting on four 3-pointers to close out the half. Harris would have 27 for the game, hitting 7-of-11 from behind the arc.

WVU crawled back to within eight points by the time the two teams headed into the locker room, very much back into the game after it looked bleak.

Ben Brust and Josh Gasser tried making things tougher for the Mountaineers, sandwiching two 3-pointers around a Devin Williams jumper to get the second half going.

The two teams continued to trade punches, but faced with a deficit that hovered close to 10, the Mountaineers needed to do more than just trade. They needed to steal.

With 5:19 left, trailing seven, WVU got the steals.

The Mountaineers were pressuring with an extended zone defense and got their hands on a crosscourt pass.  Harris got the ball ahead to Gary Browne who laid it in to cut the lead to five.

Brandon Watkins, playing the middle of the 1-3-1, had another steal as Wisconsin found itself confused and slowed by West Virginia's new defensive look. Harris took that theft to the rim and was fouled and finally a Mountaineer made good on both free throws.

It was a four-point game, but WVU would get no closer.

A dunk from Frank Kaminsky and a three from Dekker pushed the Badgers' lead back out to nine and all Wisconsin had to do was hold out an extended arm as West Virginia swung away to no avail.

Harris dropped in a late three to pad his point total, leading the Mountaineers as he has all season.

Staten had 18 points, six assists and six rebounds in the loss.

Fittingly, Staten's last chance to cut into the lead with just seconds remaining ended in two missed free throws. He and his teammates went 6-of-14 at the free throw line, while Wisconsin took advantage at the line with 15 freebies on 17 attempts.

West Virginia falls to 5-2 on the season with its next game coming up on Monday at the Coliseum against Loyola. 

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