MORGANTOWN - After making big contributions off the bench in No. 2 West Virginia’s 57-54 win over Baylor Tuesday night, Chase Harler was a popular guy.
Members of the media swarmed around him during postgame interviews. As he answered questions about his role in WVU’s 15th win in a row, he was interrupted by a teammate.
“That’s my boy right there,” said senior Jevon Carter.
Those teammates – as well as head coach Bob Huggins – praised Harler’s efforts in a narrow, grind-it-out victory that saw the Mountaineers struggle offensively.
In 19 minutes off the bench, Harler scored seven points, added two assists and had two steals.
“Chase was the X-factor,” said senior guard Daxter Miles Jr. “He played hard. I think we fed off his energy toward the end. I think we needed that.”
It was Harler’s biggest contribution for WVU (15-1, 4-0) since Big 12 play began Dec. 29, and ended a stretch of three games without a basket. For Harler, staying patient in his role is important.
“I was kind of just waiting for my time,” said Harler, a Moundsville native. “Maybe in the first Big 12 games, I didn’t get to play as much as I want, but I try to stay as ready as possible, and I just came in and tried to play as hard as I could.”
Collectively, the Mountaineers shot a season-worst 31 percent from the floor against Baylor, and standout freshman Teddy Allen failed to record a point.
Instead, Harler provided a spark off the bench on both ends of the floor.
“Everyone contributes,” said Harler. “Some nights, it could be Teddy having 20-plus or something like that. Maybe he struggled a little bit [Tuesday], so I kind of brought energy and did as much as I could.”
Huggins said Harler earned more playing time Tuesday by practicing hard and making an impact during the game.
“I don’t dictate playing time. They do,” said Huggins. “They dictate it by their practice habits, and Chase has practiced well. Quite honestly, we were hoping he could make a shot, because we were struggling to make a shot.”
He did more than just score.
“When he came in, he was out there hustling, playing defense as hard as he can,” said sophomore guard James Bolden. “He dove on the floor, and that lifted everybody else up. We all picked up from his energy, and we came out with the win.”
That made for a memorable night for the West Virginia native.
“It’s a good feeling, a better feeling that we won,” said Harler. “I try to be as positive as I can towards them [my teammates], so for them to return the favor is pretty nice.”