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Mountaineers fall to St John’s 79-73 in contact-heavy bout

There was enough contact Friday night inside the Coliseum that it seemed like the clock had been turned back some 15 years to an era now long gone by.
“It was called like an old school Big East game,” WVU head coach said after West Virginia dropped a 79-73 game to St. John’s.
At one point, Red Storm center Joel Soriano walked over to his bench and handed over part of his tooth that had been knocked loose.
Yeah, it was that type of battle, one the Mountaineers (3-4) used to play back in the day when it was a member of the Big East.
The game featured 46 fouls, 63 free-throw attempts and key players on both ends — Jesse Edwards for WVU, Chris Ledlum for St. John’s — fouled out.
“It’s pretty easy to see the story of the game,” Eilert continued. “We gave up 18 offensive rebounds to a team like that and gave them 26 second-chance points, you’re not going to have a chance to win that game. And we really did.”
Despite giving up the second-chance points and losing out on a crucial hustle play that turned the game, WVU went just 5 of 10 from the foul line in the final 1:19 and missed 10 free throws in all in the second half.
It could have been a different story for WVU, “Had we made some free throws down the stretch and cleaned up some of those things we’ve been trying to shore up the entire season,” Eilert said. “Six assists. Some guards average that, but that’s what we had tonight. It’s just not sustainable when you have to create everything one-on-one.”
St. John’s (5-2) made the plays down the stretch, including the play of the game that saw WVU guard Kobe Johnson grab a rebound, but was about to fall out of bounds.
He tipped the ball back into play and the ball bounced around between players until St. John’s forward Glenn Taylor grabbed it and got the ball to Nahiem Alleyne for
a lay-up.
Alleyne’s basket gave the Red Storm a 72-68 lead with just 1:32 left on the floor.
“That play, everything just happened so fast,” WVU forward Josiah Davis said. “It was hard to see how everything happened.”
“It was a huge play,” was Alleyne’s point of view. “Shout out to Glenn getting a tip in on the ball. I just went after it and tried to make a play.”
All WVU could muster from there was getting to the foul line, and the Mountaineers missed half of their chances there.
“I told my team, I said, ‘Look, these guys have gone to war tonight, they’re going to miss some free throws down the stretch,’ ” St. John’s coach Rick Pitino said. “They weren’t going to make them all, because we were pressing them quite a bit.”
In what was a sizable battle between Edwards and Soriano, both bigs got in some foul trouble and Edwards fouled out with 2:27 remaining in the game with the Mountaineers down by four points.
He finished with 15 points and six rebounds, but Soriano had 24 points and nine rebounds.
Ledlum, a transfer from Harvard, added 17 points and 10 rebounds for St. John’s before fouling out and Alleyne finished with 14.
Quinn Slazinski, who played the last two seasons under Pitino’s tutelage at Iona, led WVU with
19 points and Kobe Johnson had 14 points.
“This is a tough place to play. We’re coming away with a six-point victory. It’s a great victory, but we’re not going to pull away from too many people,” Pitino said. “That’s not going to happen with our team, especially with foul trouble, so you can’t play aggressive defense because we’re going to foul out everybody. Now, I thought this was a great win and a tremendous job of executing down the stretch.”