YOUNGSTOW, Ohio (AP)Oscar Tshiebwe scored 19 points and Derek Culver added 15 as No. 25 West Virginia overcame Youngstown State for a 75-64 victory Saturday.
West Virginia (10-1) scored the game’s eight points to seal its third straight game since its only loss against St. John’s at Madison Square Garden. The Mountaineers were playing as a ranked team for the first time this season.
The inside duo of Tshiebwe and Culver eventually proved to be too much for upset-mind Youngstown State (7-6), which led by seven points early in the second half. Culver also had seven rebounds and seven assists and Tshiebwe pulled down six rebounds.
It was a homecoming for the pair. Culver grew up just a short walk away from the Covelli Centre. Tshiebwe, a native of Congo, attended high school at Kennedy Catholic in nearby Sharon, Pennsylvania.
West Virginia had five plays score in double figures. Jermaine Haley and Miles McBride each had 11 and Taz Sherman finished with 10.
Youngstown State’s Darius Quisnenbery led all scorers with 22 points. Garrett Covington added 11 points and Naz Bohannon had 13 rebounds.
After falling behind 42-35 in the first two minutes of the second half, West Virginia outscored Youngstown State 23-9 to move in front 58-51 on Tshiebwe’ layin with 9:52 to go.
West Virginia increased its lead to 65-57 on Sherman’s 3-pointer with 5:10 left. Youngstown State got within 67-64 with 2:11 left on a pair of Quisenberry free throws but the Mountaineers went on a game-ending 8-0 run.
The Penguins led 38-35 at halftime.
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With a rare visit from a Power Five conference team, Youngstown State played the game off campus at the Covelli Centre.
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins and Penguins coach Jerrod Calhoun are familiar with each other. Calhoun was an assistant for Huggins at Cincinnati and West Virginia.
Youngstown State played at West Virginia last season and will make the trip to Morgantown next season.
West Virginia’s Haley, the team’s leading scorer, was back in the starting lineup. He sat out the previous game, a win over Nicholls State, for what was termed a ”coach’s decision.”
West Virginia: The schedule gets much tough for the Mountaineers. They finish non-conference play against No. 5 Ohio State on Dec. 29 then visit No. 1 Kansas in the Big 12 opener Jan 4.
Youngstown State: The Penguins had a good tuneup for Horizon League play after competing against a ranked Big 12 team.t
West Virginia: Will play Ohio State in a neutral-site game in Cleveland.
Youngstown State: Begins conference play with a two-game trip to IUPUI on Dec. 28 and Illinois-Chicago on Dec. 30.