MORGANTOWN — There were stats and some moments that even caught the WVU players by surprise Friday night, in what turned out to be an 85-78 charity exhibition inside the Coliseum by the Mountaineers against George Mason.
But as WVU head coach Josh Eilert would say after the game, there are some things more important than stats and the final score.
That was never more evident than what happened early in the second half when WVU forward Akok Akok collapsed to the floor while trying to return to the Mountaineers bench during a timeout.
“I never thought I would have to deal with a situation like that,” Eilert said. “It gives some perspective that this is just a basketball game, but these are human lives we’re talking about.”
Akok, a 6-foot-10 forward who transferred in this season from Georgetown, fell to the ground with 15:56 remaining in the second half and immediately tried to get back up. He couldn’t and fell flat on his back.
WVU trainers and medical personnel rushed to his side.
At first, there was little movement before Akok began to slowly move his arms and bend his legs. He was administered an IV on the court before he was placed on a stretcher and rushed out of the arena.
Akok was admitted to Ruby Memorial Hospital. Eilert said after the game the forward was stable and responsive and that he would likely remain in the hospital overnight for further testing.
“He was texting us after the game,” said WVU forward Quinn Slazinski, who finished with 21 points and three 3-pointers off the bench. “He was telling us good game and it was a good win. He was moving around.”
WVU, playing in front of former head coach Bob Huggins, who was in attendance, came back from a 43-33 deficit late in the first half to pull out the win.
Many factors went into that. WVU forward Jesse Edwards got in early foul trouble and went the entire first half without a rebound, while Kerr Kriisa went the entire first half without an assist.
Along the way, the Patriots rarely missed a shot or free throw, didn’t really turn the ball over and held their own on the boards.
“Credit George Mason,” Eilert said. “They came in here ready to go, ready to fight. It was a dog fight and they took it right to us. They certainly challenged us on the defensive end.”
WVU’s second half was a credit to Edwards and Kriisa looking more like themselves, while Slazinski and freshman Ofri Naveh provided much help.
Edwards, a transfer from Syracuse, finished with 21 points and seven rebounds.
In the final three minutes, Edwards scored two and-one 3-point plays that took a slim 74-71 WVU lead into an 80-71 advantage with 2:08 remaining.
Kriisa finished with 11 points, while Naveh’s spectacular drive down the middle of the lane and dunk tied the game at 59 with 10:29 remaining.
Naveh, a freshman from Israel finished with nine points.
Josiah Harris nearly had a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds.
“You can say what you want about the game, but I’m super proud of my team,” Slazinski said. “How we came together, I’m proud of my team. There’s stuff to clean up, but I can’t stress enough that I love everyone on this team. Stuff like this will only bring us closer together.”