Mountaineers Carry Momentum to Missouri - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Mountaineers Carry Momentum to Missouri

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MORGANTOWN -

Terry Henderson had a bad taste in his mouth after West Virginia fell to Wisconsin in the championship game of the Cancun Challenge.

He and his teammates recognized a missed opportunity and for him personally, it was a game that he didn't get to involve himself in after he failed to play defense the way his head coach expected. He needed to get back on track. The Mountaineers as a whole needed to, and that's what they did on Monday night.

Loyola (4-2) is no Wisconsin, but the Greyhounds were coming off of a hard fought loss to No. 13 Connecticut and were similarly trying to show that they were more like the four wins they had than like the one most recent loss.

"It's a game we should have won," Henderson said of Wisconsin. "But I knew, and my teammates knew, that Loyola had something coming for us. We don't lose on our home court, we protect our home court and I thought we did a good job tonight."

After a loss in a potential statement game, one that could show up under the quality wins column when the tournament selection committee looks at WVU, these Mountaineers knew the importance of shaking the memories of the past and looking forward to what was ahead.

For Henderson, as an individual, he knew it was time to raise the bar. Finally over a nagging shin injury, he was no longer satisfied with simply playing a role for the Mountaineers, but instead intended to begin taking over games the way he planned to as he prepared for his sophomore season.

"I think my confidence was a little higher. I'm feeling great," said Henderson. "I'm starting to crash the boards a little more, something I should have been doing earlier on, but I wasn't really feeling comfortable early on with my shin."

His addition back into the lineup certainly helps from a shooting standpoint, though Henderson would tell you that his interior play is a big part of what he worked on in recent months. Plus, Henderson isn't the only player knocking down shots on the perimeter anymore. He has help that didn't exist a year ago.

Take, for instance, Remi Dibo. The junior forward is extending defenses with his ability to rise up and connect on 3-pointers, and more recently, he's attacking the lane, too. Dibo is WVU's third-leading scorer, chucking up 43 threes through eight games, which trails only sophomore guard Eron Harris in terms of long-range attempts.

"We've got a lot of guys that are great basketball players, talented, and any night can be their night," Dibo said after the Loyola win.

The first half, at least, belonged to Kevin Noreen that night. The Mountaineers' most experienced player took, and made, his first 3-point attempt since the season opener and continued to be a force on the offensive glass as he had 13 points and seven rebounds at halftime.

The junior connected on all five of his attempts Monday. He's got the green light from his coaches, and if Noreen can become a real threat shooting the ball, WVU's offense would open up in a whole new way.

"[My coaches] know I've put time in and worked on it," Noreen said of his shooting. "If you put time in it, this goes for anybody, they want you to take shots that you've practiced. I've practiced just step in shots, so yeah, he wants me to take it if I have it."

Role players are beginning to step up for the Mountaineers and not a moment too soon. A 49-point victory over Loyola is good for confidence, sure, but the Greyhounds are no Missouri, which enters Thursday's game undefeated at 7-0.

It will be a tougher opponent and a tougher environment, and West Virginia lost its only other true road game of the season at Virginia Tech.

"I'm looking for nothing else but a win," Dibo said of the game against the Tigers. "Get out there, definitely going to be a big game, just keep our composure and do our thing on the floor."

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