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Marshall beats No. 21 West Virginia 75-71

By John Raby
AP Sports Writer / January 19, 2011

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CHARLESTON, W.Va.—Damier Pitts tied a career high with 25 points and Marshall nearly blew a 24-point lead before holding off No. 21 West Virginia 75-71 on Wednesday night.

Marshall (13-5) broke a four-game losing streak to its cross-state rival.

West Virginia (12-5) couldn't dig out of a hole it created by getting into early foul trouble and going more than 11 minutes without a field goal spanning both halves.

By then, Marshall's guard-oriented offense under first-year coach Tom Herrion had built a 47-23 lead before the taller Mountaineers mounted a comeback, getting as close as 72-69 in the final minute.

Redshirt freshman DeAndre Kane added 18 points for Marshall.

Casey Mitchell led West Virginia, which moved into the Top 25 for the first time this season on Monday, with 18 points. John Flowers added 16 points for the Mountaineers and Joe Mazzulla and Truck Bryant scored 10 apiece.

Shaquille Johnson's 3-pointer gave Marshall its largest lead with 15:55 remaining and West Virginia's fans who filled the Charleston Civic Center more than 2 hours from campus were stunned.

But after a timeout, Mitchell and Flowers hit 3-pointers and the Mountaineers started turning things around.

Marshall began fouling more and West Virginia went 13 of 15 at the line during a 17-2 run. Mitchell made three free throws after being fouled on a long shot attempt and the Mountaineers' deficit was cut to 53-46 with 8:03 left.

The teams traded baskets until Bryant was fouled on 3-point tries 11 seconds apart in the final minute. He hit all six free throws to bring the Mountaineers within 72-69 with 30 seconds left.

Marshall escaped by going 10 of 14 from the line in the final 2 minutes.

West Virginia shot 33 percent (19 of 57) from the field and saw its four-game winning streak snapped.

With Flowers and Kevin Jones on the bench in early foul trouble, Deniz Kilicli kept up the pace for the Mountaineers with four baskets over a 2-minute stretch for an 18-13 lead with 8:27 left until halftime. But West Virginia didn't hit another field goal the remainder of the half.

Marshall made nine free throws during a 16-3 run to finish the half. Pitts scored nine points in the final 3 minutes, including a 3-pointer with 6 seconds left for a 35-21 halftime lead.

It marked West Virginia's fewest first-half points and biggest halftime deficit of the season.