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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) – James “Beetle” Bolden and Esa Ahmad each scored 15 points to lead West Virginia over Youngstown State 106-72 on Saturday.
It took no time at all for the offense to get started for the Mountaineers (5-2), as Bolden scored 11 points in the first five minutes, leading WVU on a 16-5 opening run.
“Our ball movement and our movement in general is a lot better,” West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins said.
While Youngstown State (3-6) remained solid shooting the ball at times, it relied too much on pulling up beyond the arc. Of 69 shot attempts, 36 were of the 3-point variety. The Penguins made just nine of them.
“Too much,” Youngstown State head coach Jerrod Calhoun said of YSU’s reliance on the 3-point shot.
Sagaba Konate returned to the Mountaineers lineup – after missing their 92-78 win over Rider on Wednesday – with 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.
Lamont West, Wesley Harris and Brandon Knapper all scored 10 points for WVU. It was a career high for Knapper.
“Most of the time we have been shooting it off of one pass and it hasn’t been a good percentage,” Ahmad said. “So, we’ve just tried to emphasize moving the ball.”
Huggins earned his 850th career victory with the win.
Garrett Covington led the Penguins with 20 points. Naz Bohannon added 10 rebounds.
Youngstown State: The Penguins rely way too much on the 3-point shot. Youngstown State shot 52 percent of its field goal attempts from beyond the arc, but that only accounted for 38 percent of its scoring.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers now head into the meat of their nonconference schedule with meetings against Florida and archrival Pitt. WVU has shot over 50 percent in five of their last eight halves
“We’re going to have to play our butts off to win,” Huggins said
WVU’s win over Youngstown State was the 850th for Huggins. He becomes the 14th college basketball coach, and eighth active coach, to reach that milestone.
“Huggs is so perfect with this place,” Calhoun said. “His personality really fits West Virginia with the toughness and his work ethic.”
North Carolina’s Roy Williams will have the opportunity to cross that threshold as well, when the Tar Heels host UNC Wilmington on Wednesday.
COUNTRY ROADS TO YOUNGSTOWN
The Penguins traveled with two guys with connections to the Mountain State.
Calhoun coached Fairmont State for five seasons, leading them to an NCAA Division II national championship game in 2017.
Redshirt freshman walk-on Geoff Hamperian also made the trip for the Penguins. He is a native of Morgantown, graduating from University High School.
Hamperian scored two points and got a rebound against his hometown team.
Youngstown State: The Penguins return home to face Central Michigan on Tuesday.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers head to Madison Square Garden to face Florida in the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday.
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