Bearcats late game struggles lead to 69-65 loss to West Virginia

The Bearcats made a trip to Morgantown on Wednesday night to take on West Virginia in a match up that featured former Big East foes. The game was the first meeting between the two since the 2012 season.

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

With former Cincinnati and West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins in the stands, the Bearcats raced out to an early 7-2 lead. 

UC struggled with turnovers early, with Vik Lakhin having three, as the Mountaineers trailed 7-6 at the first media stop. All six West Virginia's points were scored following UC turnovers. 

Dan Skillings layup off a Jizzle James assist ended a 10-0 West Va run as the Mountaineers led 12-9 with 11:34 left in the first half. West Va made 5-of-6 field goal attempts during the run, while the Bearcats were 1-for-7.

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

Prior to the media timeout, Quinn Slazinski had six of the Mountaineers twelve points. He was assessed a technical foul for chirping at UC players, which led to two Simas Lukosius free throws to cut the West Va lead to 1, 12-11.

The Mountaineers would take a 17-15 lead in to the under eight media stop. The Bearcats held West Va without a field goal for two minutes but had made just 1-of-7 three-point attempts and were 6-of-18 from the field. 

Bandaogo scored for UC out of the media timeout to tie the score at 17.

Jesse Edwards ended a 3 minute 34 second field goal drought with 6:03 remaining in the half to give the Mountaineers a two-point advantage. 

Cincinnati responded with an 8-0 run over the next 2:34 to give the Bearcats a 25-19 lead heading into the final media stop of the half. Five different Bearcats scored during the run. West Va missed all four field goal attempts during the Cincinnati run.

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

West Virginia ended a field goal drought that spanned 5:38 with 25 seconds left on an Akok Akok dunk to cut UC's lead to 27-23 heading into the half.  

UC made just 1-of-10 three-point attempts in the first half but out-rebounded the Mountaineers 22-18 through the first 20 minutes. 

Day Day Thomas extended the UC lead to 30-23 with a 3-pointer to start the second half. 

West Virginia answered with a 9-0 run over the next 2:20 to give them a 32-30 lead.

At the first media stop of the second half, West Virginia led 35-32 as the Bearcats missed four consecutive field goal attempts and hadn't scored a field goal since Day Day Thomas' 3-pointer at the 19:40 mark of the half.

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

RaeQuan Battle made 5-of-6 free throws to key West Virginia's 12-5 run to open the second half. 

Trailing 37-32, Dan Skillings scored eight straight for UC to cut West Virginia's lead to 42-40. Simas Lukosius made a second chance layup on the next Cincinnati possession and Jamille Reynolds gave the Cats a 44-42 lead on a nice move down low. 

Reynolds would be assessed a technical foul on the next West Virginia possession to allow the Mountaineers to tie the score on two free throws and then take a 46-44 lead with a Quinn Slazinski jumper. 

West Virginia made just 2-of-6 free throws during the first half. Through the first 9:06 of the second half, West Va had made 9-of-10 free throw attempts to contribute to their two-point lead. 

Trailing 50-49 following a Jesse Edwards dunk, Day Day Thomas connected from deep on consecutive UC possessions to give the Bearcats a 55-50 lead with 8:15 remaining in the game. 

The 6-0 run by the Cats spanned just :45 seconds. Thomas' three was the sixth of the half for UC.

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)

Cincinnati extended their lead to 60-50 following a three-pointer by Skillings and Lukosius floater in the lane. With 6:16 remaining in the game, West Virginia had been held without a field goal for three minutes.

Jesse Edwards ended a 4 minute 16 second scoring drought with a dunk to cut UC's lead to 60-53. Following a Newman turnover, Edwards cut the lead to 60-55 on a dunk attempt. Slazinski made a three on the next West Virginia possession to cut UC's lead to just two, 60-58, with 3:47 remaining in the game. 

UC missed four field goal attempts and turned the ball over three times during West Virginia's 8-0 run over 2:29.

Jesse Edwards scored on a dunk following a Lukosius offensive foul to erase Cincinnati's ten-point lead and tie the score at 60 with 3:26 remaining. Edwards would extend the West Virginia run to 12-0 with 1:47 remaining after collecting a Kerr Kriisa miss and putting it back up to give the Mountaineers a 62-60 lead.

With 1:43 left to play, UC hadn't scored in 4:46 and had missed five consecutive field goal attempts with four turnovers. 

Cincinnati missed 8 of their final 10 field goal attempts as West Virginia closed the game on a 19-5 run to walk off their home court with a 69-65 win.

Key Stats:

UC had limited their opponents to just 16.8 free throw attempts over the last four games. West Virginia attempted 22 second half free throws and 28 for the game. While the Mountaineers finished 16-of-28, you simply can't foul that much and expect to win on the road. UC attempted just eight free throws, but that was primarily a result of settling for 32 shots from beyond the arc instead of attacking the rim.

- Jesse Edwards was a problem for the Bearcats tonight. He led West Va with 25 pts, 10 rbs. Quinn Slazinski also finished in double figures with 15 points while RaeQuan Battle and Kerr Kriisa both had 10 points, each.

- Dan Skillings led UC with 15 points on 6-of-19 shooting and 3-of-9 from deep. As good as Skillings was at times, he started the game 2-of-8 and missed his last four field goal attempts. 

- Simas Lukosius finished with 13 points, six assists while Day Day Thomas also scored in double figures with 12 points. John Newman did a great job defensively on RaeQuan Battle but was limited to nine points after averaging 16 over the last four games. Newman was injured late in the game after taking a shot to his ribs. Wes Miller provided no update during his post game press conference. 

- Cincinnati won the rebounding battle 42-33 but were outscored 22-12 in points off turnovers. West Virginia forced 13 UC turnovers and did a great job of capitalizing on the miscues by the Bearcats. 

- This was a game for Vik Lakhin to forget. After missing the UCF game, he was held scoreless tonight and missed all five field goal attempts. Trailing 65-63, Lakhin took a three-point attempt with :39 seconds left and eight seconds left on the shot clock. Coming out of a timeout, I think Cincinnati could have gotten a better look in that situation. 

- West Virginia shot 58 percent in the second half, making 14-of-24 field goal attempts. The Mountaineers also made six of their final eight field goal attempts. 

Final Thoughts:

Wes Miller called the Bearcats' performance a "meltdown" and "unacceptable" during his post-game comments. " We can't blow a game like that on the road with a big lead late in the game." 

Tonight was absolutely a meltdown. UC made just two of their final ten field goal attempts and couldn't get stops down the stretch when they needed them. Shot selection, missed assignments defensively, and not being able to grab rebounds were all contributing factors to West Virginia getting their third conference win of the season. 

"Credit to (WVU head coach) Josh Eilert, I know it hasn't been easy since they haven't been at full-strength, but they're obviously a gifted team, and he's doing a great job in a tough situation. I'm extremely disappointed in how we finished the game. We have to be better at closing out, especially a 10-point lead with six minutes left. That's inexcusable and falls on the coach. I have to do better at preparing my team. We blew an opportunity on the road"


With 15th-ranked Texas Tech coming up Saturday on the road, the Bearcats have to put this one behind them quickly. 

(Photo: Taylor Keeton)






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