West Virginia forces 40 turnovers, crushes Manhattan
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Esa Ahmad scored 17 of his career-best 19 points in the opening half and didn’t miss a shot from the floor as No. 25 West Virginia put away Manhattan early in a 108-61 romp on Monday night.
The pressing Mountaineers (5-1) recovered from Friday’s loss to Temple by forcing a school-record 40 turnovers, five coming on steals by Ahmad.
“Today, they were playing that 1-1-3 and Esa did a good job of finding gaps,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “He’s our advantage against a lot of people because everybody’s playing three guards. Him being 6-7 and having those huge hands, he can be a mismatch problem.”
Forward Nathan Adrian finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and dived headfirst into a scrum to force a held-ball situation with West Virginia leading 74-37. The mini-scuffle led to a technical foul on the Jaspers’ Aaron Walker. Adrian sank two free throws.
Zavier Peart scored 11 points and Samson Usilo had nine for the Jaspers (2-4). Point guard Zavier Turner, following a 32-point performance at Detroit, didn’t score his first basket until 18:23 remained in the game. He managed only five points, 14 below his season average.
The Mountaineers, leading the country at 24.8 forced turnovers per game, frustrated the Jaspers into 25 by halftime, with forward Zane Waterman and Turner combining to commit 17.
”In order to be a tough guy, you’ve got to go against some tough guys and get beat every once in a while,“ Manhattan coach Steve Masiello said. ”Before we made the tournament in 2014 and 2015, we went to Syracuse and lost by 28, went to Louisville lost by 30.
“I take my hat off to West Virginia. We want to take some things from them, get better, then go take that out on the MAAC.”
Daxter Miles scored 11 points and walk-on guard James Long added 10 points, nearly matching his previous two-year total of 13.
Ahmad was 7 of 7 from the field in the first half with three steals and two assists to help West Virginia build a 60-27 margin. By that point, the Mountaineers had 17 assists on 21 baskets, including slick perimeter passing that set up a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Long.
The Mountaineers shot 47 percent from the floor, including 8 of 18 from 3-point range in leading wire to wire.
Manhattan shot 38 percent from the field and 27 percent on 3-pointers (6 of 22).
NOTES: With win No. 796, Huggins moved within 10 of Eddie Sutton for eighth place on the Division I career list. ... Manhattan lost to Temple 86-67 in the NIT Season Tip-Off preliminaries and West Virginia fell 81-77 to the Owls in the championship game. ... The Mountaineers’ average margin of victory in four home wins this season climbed to 41 points.