MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – It wasn’t pretty the whole way through, but WVU escaped its charity exhibition with George Mason with an 85-78 win.
Here are the biggest takeaways from interim head coach Josh Eilert’s postgame comments:
Importance of Jesse Edwards
Syracuse transfer center Jesse Edwards’ impact on the WVU offense became apparent when he scored the first two baskets of the game, and even more so in both halves when Edwards spent long stints on the bench in foul trouble before ultimately fouling out.
In WVU’s game-sealing 9-0 run late in the second half, Edwards accounted for six of the points.
“I had to force the issue with Jesse [Edwards],” Eilert said. “I wanted to do as much as I can, to get everyone involved. Sometimes you just keep riding that horse, riding that horse and you wear him down. We have lack of depth at the big, so that’s concerning. It’s a charity exhibition game, but ultimately I wanted to win. I went to Jesse, and I kept forcing that issue. He handled it well and kept fighting and got us the win.”
Improvements from scrimmage to exhibition
In both its secret scrimmage against Vanderbilt and its charity exhibition against George Mason, WVU was in battles towards the final minutes of each game. The Mountaineers couldn’t pull ahead against the Commodores, but they rallied for a victory at home against the Patriots.
So, what was the difference?
“I thought we played a lot harder,” Eilert said. We made a lot of the same mistakes we did against Vanderbilt, but our energy and our enthusiasm, and probably credit to out crowd, playing in front of our fans for the first time. I think that really gave [us] that energy and that jolt to our guys and turned it up a notch.”
The young buck
Ofri Naveh is WVU’s only true freshman this season, and he stepped up to the challenge Friday night.
Naveh recorded nine points on 50% shooting with five rebounds, three assists and two steals. He made his presence known in the second half with a highlight-reel worthy slam dunk that tied the score at 59-59 after WVU trailed for nearly the length of a whole half.
“He’s a special kid,” Eilert said. “He really is, and [he is] a special basketball player. He’s got one of the best basketball IQs that I’ve seen as a freshman, and he competes. He competes, and the questions he asks – sometimes I don’t understand what he’s saying – but once I figure it out, they’re really good questions.”