West Virginia’s Derek Culver’s impact on this game cannot be overstated.
WVU had 22 offensive rebounds tonight, which amounted to 26 second-chance points. Culver had seven of the offensive boards, and he grabbed 19 rebounds in total, something he’s done before against the Cowboys.
“He’s probably averaging 20 rebounds a game here in Gallagher-Iba Arena,” coach Mike Boynton said. “I think his first game here he had 20. I’ve coached now for 17 years, and I’ve only seen that happen three times. He’s done it twice. We didn’t have an answer for him.”
Obviously, the thing that people are talking about right now is the fact that OSU blew a 19-point lead with around 12 minutes to go. Yes, Boynton adamantly expressed the fact that this game should have been won, but it goes even farther back than just the last 12 minutes.
The Cowboys played an excellent first half, and they took a 10-point lead into halftime for their efforts. But Boynton thinks it could have been more than that if not for the extra possessions given to the Mountaineers in the form of offensive rebounds.
Of WVU’s 22 offensive rebounds, 16 of them were in the first 20 minutes.
“If we do a little bit of a better job there, let’s say they get eight in the first half, maybe we’re up 15 or 16 then,” Boynton said. “Now we’ve got a chance early in the second half to extend that lead into the 20s. Then you’re looking at a different ballgame.”
To add to the difficulty rebounding over Culver and WVU, Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe was out of the lineup for OSU. As a big man who has good prowess at the rim, his absence was felt tonight.
The players don’t want to use that as an excuse though, citing Culver’s play rather than Moncrieffe’s absence.
“Culver, he was having his way on the glass in the second half, and pretty much in the first half he just went out there and punk’d us,” Isaac Likekele said. “I feel like we didn’t do a good job on him.”
It’s clear that a loss like this hurts, especially with how it happened. Letting a big lead slip away in the second half hurts, but ultimately, WVU’s rebounding ability allowed for them to stay within striking distance.
And strike they did.
“At the end of the day, they wore us down on the glass,” Boynton said. “Culver really was unstoppable for them.”