Miles McBride’s second half explosion led West Virginia to a 60-55 win over Northern Iowa to send them to the finals of the Cancun Challenge against Wichita State.
McBride would go off for 14 points in the second half, but it was a long time before the Mountaineer offense would get going.
Oscar Tshiebwe would put the first points of the game on the board, but it didn’t exactly give West Virginia the edge. The Panthers answered with 7 unanswered points, with three different players getting in on the scoring party.
The Mountaineers simply couldn’t get their offense going in the first half at all. Five Mountaineers in the first 17 minutes combined to go 0 for 11 from the field, while only Tshiebwe would be able to make more than one bucket.
UNI wasn’t exactly having their best shooting night either, but Isaiah Brown’s 8 points on 80 percent shooting would be enough to give the Panthers the edge into halftime.
Derek Culver dominated the boards in the first half of play, but rebounding margin would be locked at 21 as the two teams headed to the locker room.
Tshiebwe again made the first bucket of the second half, but the Panthers responded with an even bigger 12-2 run to jump out to a 35-24 lead.
Everything soon changed for the Mountaineers. Jermaine Haley put together a few buckets to cut into the Mountaineer lead, but Miles McBride would ultimately swing the game in the Mountaineers’ favor with a strong showing on the offensive end. He would eventually take the lead back for West Virginia with a jumpshot at the 2:45 mark.
The Panthers would fight on, but Austin Phyfe and Justin Dahl — two of their most critical players in the frontcourt — would foul out down the final stretch.
The lead would teeter back and forth for the final stretch, but a missed McBride jumper would get tipped in by Emmitt Matthews Jr. to go ahead by 1 point with 16.5 seconds left. . The sophomore also drew a flaigrant foul on the play, allowing the Mountaineers to send Sean McNeil to the line. WVU would also get possession, and ultimately, the victory.
Still, the Mountaineers won despite their offense. They’d shoot an even 50 percent for the field in the second half, but their slow start from the field had them at a 25 percent clip in the first half. Sean McNeil made WVU’s only three-pointer made of the first half in 10 attempts for the Mountaineers.
WVU also got beaten on the glass for the first time this season, 40-35.
The Mountaineers return to the court Wednesday night once again in Cancun, but this time it’s for all the marbles: they will face Gregg Marshall and the Wichita State in the Cancun Challenge after the Shockers took down South Carolina, 70-47.