WVU loses early lead, falls to Texas Tech – Wheeling Intelligencer

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Mar 3, 2024

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WV News) — While West Virginia’s men’s basketball chased “fool’s gold” through a second half when the mine’s roof was caving in on them thanks to Joe Toussaint, their former teammate who blew out of town when things were coming apart last summer, and a Texas Tech team that was able to turn an early 16-point deficit into an 81-70 victory at the Coliseum Saturday night.
The fast start for WVU included a number of difficult shots that fell for them while the Red Raiders were trying to figure out what they could do. Toussaint was among those struggling to find the right formula early.
“Honestly, it was just our defense,” Toussaint said. “We usually let our offense dictate our defense and today I wasn’t going to let that happen. I wasn’t going to stand for it and I got in a couple of our guys’ faces. I told them about themselves at the half, we got to stop people … me included.
“I let a couple of easy things go. I held myself accountable and I told them, ‘We can’t keep letting things happen if we want to win this game.’”
Toussaint and Texas Tech adjusted at the half, WVU failed to follow suit as they chased what first-year coach Josh Eilert called “fool’s gold.”
“We made some shots early that were really hard shots,” Eilert explained. “That’s fool’s gold. When those shots fall early and they are difficult shots, you think you can live on that and you can’t live on it.”
Certainly, a school in a state whose culture and history is written around mines, be they coal or gold, you’d think they would be smart enough not to fall for fool’s gold.
But West Virginia wasn’t.
At half time, they were shooting 62% from the floor and 62% from 3-point range.
Instead of thinking that would continue, it would seem rather obvious that you couldn’t keep that up for 40 minutes, and considering that the Mountaineer lead at the half was only 6 points, warning sirens should have been screaming in their ears.
Perhaps they couldn’t hear them over the exultation of the crowd of 11,313 that were on hand for the next-to-last home game of the season, for come the second half — as has happened so often this season that now has the Mountaineers at 9-21, it all came apart.
“I challenged them in the halftime, told them that the first four minutes were going to be critical. It’s a critical first four minutes the way we start the half. Consequently, it just went the other direction on us really fast. I couldn’t stop the bleeding, no matter how I tried.”
The second half was a bloody mess as the Mountaineers, who had opened up a 20-4 lead in the first eight minutes of the game, then saw it slowly melting away. Two late first half baskets by Toussaint drew Texas Tech to within 45-39 at the half.
Toussaint would proceed to take the game over in the second half. He scored 9 points as Texas Tech outgunned WVU, 42-25, and tossed in six assists. That is a large number standing alone but when you consider the entire Mountaineers team had only seven assists in that same half, you realize just how big a role he played.
And that doesn’t even count the three steals he had as he helped disrupt the WVU offensive offense.
Toussaint’s 21 points against WVU were one shy of his career high, and he has quite a career as he was playing in his 127th collegiate game. Interestingly enough, his career high is 22 points and that came when he was a Mountaineer and was against Texas Tech, the team he now represents.
Toussaint said he took this game like any other, with a chip on his shoulder, but it was different for him because the kid from New York City was back east and his dad and family got to come see him play, about 13 strong.
Eilert thought he was ready to handle Toussaint.
“Joe, we all know who Joe Toussaint is and how he plays … he’s a bulldog out there on the floor defensively,” he said in his midweek media session.
“I’m sure he’s going to come in with a chip on his shoulder coming back to Morgantown and try to wreak havoc, so we’ve got to take care of the ball.”
Didn’t happen. WVU had 14 turnovers to 8 for Texas Tech, who turned the 14 turnovers into 16 points and allowed the Red Raiders to take 16 more shots than WVU during the game.
“We have got to value our possessions better,” Eilert said.
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