Miles McBride, who led West Virginia with 18 points, made three free throws in the last 14 seconds to help clinch the Mountaineers’ 60-55 win Tuesday night over Northern Iowa in a semifinal game of the Cancun Classic at Riviera Maya, Mexico.
McBride made one of two free throws with 14 seconds left to put West Virginia (5-0) ahead 58-55. Northern Iowa, which blew a 15-point second half lead, was unable to convert with A.J. Green missing a shot in the lane.
McBride was fouled with three seconds left and made both free throws.
The Mountaineers will face Wichita State in the championship game Wednesday.
Jermaine Haley had 10 points and seven rebounds, and Derek Culver, West Virginia’s third-leading scorer at 10.8 points a game, went 0 of 5 from the field, but he pulled down 15 rebounds.
Northern Iowa (6-1) was led by Isaiah Brown’s 15 points and six rebounds.
Northern Iowa’s last points came when Justin Dahl made a shot in the lane after grabbing an offensive rebound with 1:27 left to put the Panthers ahead 55-53.
Dahl fouled out after reaching in on a shot by Emmitt Matthews Jr. with 1:02 left. Matthews made one of two free throws to cut the lead to 55-54.
Northern Iowa’s Spencer Halderman missed a layup on the other end and Matthews grabbed the defensive rebound. West Virginia called a timeout with 26.1 seconds left.
Matthews tapped the ball in off a miss with 16.5 remaining, but he hit the ground hard with the back of his head after falling to the floor on a flagrant-1 foul by Halderman, who appeared to undercut Matthews.
Sean McNeil made one of two free throws for Matthews, who was unable to take the free throws, to give West Virginia a 57-55 lead.
The Panthers went on a 16-2 run to take a 39-24 lead with 14:54 left in regulation. Six different Northern Iowa players scored in that stretch, including Dahl’s frontcourt teammate Austin Phyfe, who was called for his fourth foul with 18:04 remaining.
Phyfe, who was averaging 10.5 points and 7.2 rebounds a game, sat until 7:36 was left with Northern Iowa ahead 46-37. He later fouled out as well.
The Mountaineers got hot from 3-point range to go on an 18-4 run to take a 51-50 lead with 2:45 left.
—Field Level Media