MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins liked the ending. Virginia Tech guard Erick Green most certainly did not.
After Tech gave up a wide-open layup, Green missed a jumper at the buzzer as West Virginia held on for a 68-67 win in front of a sellout crowd at WVU Coliseum on Saturday.
A dejected Green, whose team lost for the first time this season, dropped to his knees and slapped his hands on the court.
“It hurts because it showed that they wanted it more,” said Green, who had 23 points and 10 assists for the Hokies (7-1). “I’m a winner and I hate to lose and that hurt.”
“I kind of liked the ending,” Huggins said.
With WVU (4-3) up 65-64, Tech center Cadarian Raines missed both his free-throw attempts with 37.8 seconds left.
After Aaric Murray made one of two free throws, Robert Brown (21 points) banked in a 3-pointer to give Tech a 67-66 lead with 18 seconds left.
WVU guard Juwan Staten missed a layup with 10 seconds left, but his team got the rebound.
Staten, who had missed his first five field-goal attempts, drove past Brown and Raines for an open layup to give WVU a 68-67 lead with five seconds left.
Green said Tech did not pay attention to the scouting report.
“We were supposed to switch everything,” Green said. “I didn’t get a good angle at him because I had my man in the corner. [Staten] rejected the ball screen; the lane was wide-open.
“We do defensive stops [in practice] every day. We do one-on-one drills to stop your opponent from running. And that comes down to heart.
“At the end of the game, when the game got tight, we didn’t have enough heart to get the rebound and get that extra stop.”
Brown blamed miscommunication.
“We were switching everything and … didn’t pay attention to details,” Brown said.
Green’s mid-range jumper went off the rim at the buzzer.
“I had a great look,” Green said. “I really thought it was good. I guess I left it a little short. But I couldn’t get a better look.”
WVU’s Kevin Noreen, a 6-foot-10 backup forward who entered the game averaging just 1.3 points and 2.2 rebounds, had a career-high 14 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. He was 6-of-10 from the field, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range, and snared seven offensive rebounds.
“He killed us,” Green said. “We ain’t supposed to let things like that happen. He’s not on the scouting report to beat us, and we let him beat us.”
The WVU bench outscored Tech’s reserves 36-4.
The Mountaineers outrebounded Tech 49-38. They snared 23 offensive rebounds.
“We didn’t rebound at all,” Green said. “They killed us on the boards.”
“They out-toughed us,” Brown said.
WVU was 10-of-24 from 3-point range after never making more than five in any of its other games. Murray, a 6-10 center, had 15 points and two 3-pointers.
Tech entered the game averaging 86.1 points but was held to a season-low number of points. Jarell Eddie got in foul trouble and had just five points in 20 minutes.
The Hokies had sunk at least 27 free throws in each of their past four games but were just 8-of-10 from the free-throw line Saturday.
“We probably didn’t do a good job of attacking [the basket],” Tech coach James Johnson said.
The Hokies shot just 33.3 percent from the field in the first half and trailed 30-24 at halftime.
“They definitely slowed us down in the first half,” Brown said.
Tech was coming off a win over then-No. 15 Oklahoma State. For the sixth straight time, Tech followed up a win over a ranked foe by losing its next game.