MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Four days after scraping by for a win over Missouri State, West Virginia men’s basketball hit its first roadblock of the season.
The Mountaineers (1-1) fell 73-65 to Monmouth (1-1) in the Mountaineers’ second game of the season. Coming into Friday’s matchup, WVU won 113 of its last 120 nonconference matchups.
“We’re going to get killed for it, and there’s probably some truth behind it, but we’re here to win games,” WVU forward Quinn Slazinski said.
It was also the Mountaineers first home loss to a team outside the Power-Five conferences since their loss to Buffalo in 2019.
One of the reasons WVU was able to complete the second-half comeback against Missouri State Monday was because of their ball security on offense. The Mountaineers turned the ball over seven times – and only twice in the second half – on the way to victory despite a low shooting percentage.
Nine minutes into Friday’s game, they matched their seven-turnover total from Monday. Monmouth scored 11 of its first 17 points of WVU turnovers.
Each one of WVU’s five starters (Jesse Edwards, Quinn Slazinski, Josiah Harris, Seth Wilson and Kobe Johnson) recorded at least five points in the first half, and WVU took a 33-32 lead into the locker room at halftime after a buzzer-beating mid-ranger from Edwards (16 points, 13 rebounds on the night).
WVU trailed for a good portion of the half’s last 10 minutes before Slazinski facilitated a 7-0 run with a three-pointer and a nifty assist to Johnson for a layup off a turnover. Both plays came after a Seth Wilson (10 points) mid-ranger to start the run.
Edwards led all WVU scorers with 10 points and eight rebounds at the halfway point. The Mountaineers shot 40% (12-of-30) from the field to start the game.
Like WVU did Monday, Monmouth opened the second half with blazing efficiency. The Hawks scored on four of their first six possessions of the half on the way to a 12-5 run and a 44-38 lead at the under-16 timeout.
From that point on, WVU played catch-up.
It seemed like every time the Mountaineers generated production offensively, Monmouth had a response of its own. WVU went on a 6-0 run to cut the Hawks’ lead to 49-47 midway through the half before the Hawks responded with a three-pointer off a turnover. Minutes later, the Mountaineers cut the deficit to one possession (52-49) once more before Monmouth added another six-straight points.
Most of the Hawks’ success came from Bucknell transfer Xander Rice, who scored 30 points on the night.
By the time the under-four-minute timeout came along, Monmouth controlled a comfortable 66-53 lead, and WVU fans started marching towards the exits.
The Mountaineers cut the lead to four with under a minute to play, but they could not come within a possession as the Hawks took care of business at the free-throw line, securing a 73-65 win.
WVU made 21-of-67 field goals (31.3%) on the night, and the team shot just 21.9% (7-of-32) from deep. Slazinski (15 points, four assists) made three of the Mountaineers’ seven three-pointers on the night. WVU starting point guard Kobe Johnson recorded a career-high 13 points on the night.
The Mountaineers also finished the game with 10 turnovers on offense, and Monmouth turned those 10 miscues into 18 points.
WVU continues its nonconference schedule with another home test against Jacksonville State Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the WVU Coliseum.