Men's Basketball, Sports, WVU Sports

Taz Sherman scores 23, WVU beats No. 15 UConn 56-53

MORGANTOWN — Taz Sherman scored 23 points and West Virginia held on for a 56-53 victory over No. 15 UConn on Wednesday night.

The Mountaineers (8-1) were terrible at the free throw line but made enough in the closing minute to beat a ranked opponent in their first try this season.

Sean McNeil, who missed West Virginia’s last game with a sore back, added 16 points for the Mountaineers.

Short-handed UConn (8-2) was held to a season low in points in its first true road game. Isaiah Whaley led the Huskies with 15 points. R.J. Cole added 14 and Andre Jackson scored 10.

West Virginia went 12 of 27 (44%) from the free-throw line, its worst performance of the season.

West Virginia doesn’t have a dominant rebounder after losing double-double machine Derek Culver to the NBA draft last spring. The Mountaineers gave up plenty of extra chances in the paint to UConn, who held a 35-31 rebounding advantage.

After Pauly Paulicap and Sherman each made a free throw to put West Virginia ahead 53-51, UConn missed four shots on the same possession with under a minute left.

Sherman then was fouled, made the first free throw and missed the second. But West Virginia teammate Gabe Osabuohien got the rebound and McNeil was fouled with 17 seconds left. McNeil made two free throws for a 55-51 lead, and UConn’s Isaiah Whaley answered with a tip-in with 7 seconds left.

McNeil was fouled again and made one of two free throws, and Cole missed a 3-point try as time ran out.

Sherman and McNeil each had 13 points in the first half, when there were 10 lead changes. The Mountaineers led 32-29 at halftime.

Hurting Huskies

UConn starting guard Tyrese Martin is out with a fractured left wrist and forward Adama Sanogo will miss several weeks with an abdominal strain. They combine to average more than 28 points per game.

Big picture

UConn: The Huskies went 3-of-21 (14%) from 3-point range and couldn’t make the most of their second chances to score under the basket.

West Virginia: The Mountaineers turned up their defensive intensity in the closing minutes and squeaked out the win despite getting little production from their bench.

Up next

West Virginia: Hosts Kent State on Sunday.