Sean McNeil scored all of his game-high 23 points in the second half and West Virginia turned up its defensive pressure to pull away from Youngstown State 82-52 on Wednesday night in a nonconference game at Morgantown, W.Va.
Taz Sherman added 16 points as the Mountaineers (11-1) won their eighth game in a row. Jalen Bridges had nine points and eight rebounds for West Virginia.
Chris Shelton scored 13 points for the Penguins (7-4), who had a five-game winning streak snapped. Michael Akuchie added 10 points for Youngstown State and Myles Hunter had nine points and eight rebounds.
The Mountaineers struggled mightily from the field in the first half, missing 13 of their first 14 shots.
The Penguins led by as many as five points in the opening half, at 13-8 with 8:27 remaining.
A layup by Pauly Paulicap with one second left gave West Virginia a 24-23 halftime lead despite the Mountaineers shooting 7 of 30 from the field and missing all five of their 3-point attempts.
But the second half was completely different, as WVU was 18 of 25 from the field and 7 for 10 from 3-point range, with McNeil and Sherman combining to make their first six attempts from distance after the intermission.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Sherman in the opening two minutes of the second half capped a 7-0 run as the Mountaineers extended their lead to 31-23.
A 3-pointer by Shelton pulled the Penguins within 34-31 with 16:39 left before WVU pulled away with a 14-0 run. McNeil scored the final eight points of the streak on two 3-pointers and two free throws.
Youngstown State guard Shemar Rathan-Mayes had an undisclosed injury late in the first half and didn’t return. That affected the Penguins when WVU started pressing in the second half as they finished with 20 turnovers. Youngstown State shot 33.3 percent (19 of 57) for the game.
It was the ninth time in 12 games this season the Mountaineers held their opponent to fewer than 60 points.
–Field Level Media
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