MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) _ Beetle Bolden scored 18 points to lead West Virginia to a 69-59 win over archrival Pittsburgh in the Backyard Brawl on Saturday.
The Mountaineers (6-3) won the defensive slugfest by doing what it does best, force turnovers. Pitt’s 24 turnovers led to 22 points for their former Big East rivals. WVU also struggled however, with 26 turnovers throughout the game, the most by a Mountaineer team since 2002.
Both West Virginia and Pittsburgh played chippy basketball in the first half. Jared Wilson-Frame and Kene Chukwuka of Pitt as well as Lamont West and Andrew Gordon of WVU picked up technical fouls in the first half.
The Panthers (7-3) were hampered primarily by poor shooting early. After a Sidy N’Dir dunk put Pitt up three midway through the first half, the Panthers went on a shooting drought that would last more than eight-and-a-half minutes. Wilson-Frame and Trey McGowens nailed a couple of 3s late, but the Mountaineers went into the locker room with a 39-27 lead.
Pitt struggled to chip away at West Virginia’s lead throughout the game, but a late 6-0 run with under three minutes left did cut the lead to single digits. Bolden responded with a couple of free throws with under a minute left and the Panthers were unable to make a shot with the remaining 58 seconds.
Sagaba Konate came off the bench to score 16 points and nine rebounds. Konate also added seven blocks, which broke a West Virginia school record. Esa Ahmad added 13 points.
Xavier Johnson led Pitt with 21 points and six rebounds. McGowens added 18 points.
Pittsburgh: The Panthers have lost three of their last four games. They’ll host Maryland Eastern Shore, New Orleans and Colgate before starting ACC play at home against Cam Johnson and North Carolina.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers looked very much like the “Press Virginia” version of years past, scoring 22 off of 24 Pitt turnovers. That skill will come in handy for West Virginia with Rhode Island and NCAA Tournament mainstay Lehigh left on their non-conference schedule.
Pittsburgh will have a week off before hosting Maryland Eastern Shore on Saturday.
West Virginia will also have a week off, taking on Rhode Island in the Hall of Fame Showcase on Dec. 16.