MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU rallied from a halftime deficit and went on a 9-0 run towards the end of the game to complete the 85-78 comeback win over George Mason in a charity exhibition at the WVU Coliseum Friday night.
“Credit to George Mason,” interim head coach Josh Eilert said. “They came in here ready to go and ready to fight. It was a dog fight. They took it right to us. They certainly challenged us on the defensive end. There’s a lot of things we need to clean up in that regard. Credit to [George Mason head coach] Tony [Skinn] and his team and the program for coming in here and giving us a good test. [It’s] something we probably needed going into that first game.”
Basketball took a backseat in priority to WVU forward Akok Akok’s health when Akok suffered an apparent medical emergency in the second half of the scrimmage.
Akok was walking off the floor for the first media timeout of the second half when he went down, and a flurry of medical personnel immediately rushed to his side. Medical officials appeared to rip Akok’s jersey open and provide an IV during a delay that went over ten minutes long.
According to the team’s social media accounts, Akok was taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital for further observation. Interim head coach Josh Eilert noted after the game that Akok is in stable condition with the use of all extremities, and he will be kept overnight Friday for observation.
Play resumed after another five-minute warmup delay.
The first half of the scrimmage heavily favored George Mason, but it was a good first look into WVU’s on-court dynamics.
It’s clear that the WVU offense operates at its highest level with Syracuse transfer Jesse Edwards (21 points, seven rebounds) on the court, and it showed early when Edwards got into foul trouble. Edwards scored WVU’s first two baskets, but he spent a good chunk of the first half on the bench with two fouls.
With Edwards out, Iona transfer and projected sixth man Quinn Slazinski found some success offensively. Slazinski scored nine quick points and led WVU on an 11-2 run out of the under-12 media timeout.
As a team, WVU struggled offensively, shooting 41.2% (14-of-34) from the field in the first half. Edwards tallied eight points in eight minutes of play, while Arizona transfer Kerr Kriisa added seven points on two three-pointers, one of which came with a free throw on an and-one opportunity. Guard Seth Wilson led the Mountaineers in minutes (16:22), while Josiah Harris corralled a team-high five rebounds.
George Mason shot 62% from the field in the first half. Five different players scored six points or more.
The attention of both teams and everyone in the stadium shifted to Akok’s health early in the second half. After almost 20 minutes of stoppage, the teams resumed play, and WVU played its best ball of the night for Akok.
“There was a discussion [about calling the game],” Eilert said. “Tony and I talked. He left it up to me. I made sure the guys were in a good headspace, good enough headspace to continue the game. That was important, and they wanted to play so we decided it was best to move on, try to turn the page, and get out there for warm up.”
WVU went on a 16-12 run and took its first lead since the nine-minute mark in the first half when it went up 64-62 with eight-and-change remaining in the second half.
From that point on, it was a back-and-forth battle. There were three ties and two lead changes before WVU went on a 9-0 run with under five minutes of play to provide a big enough cushion for the victory.
Edwards and Slazinski both led WVU with 21 points each.
WVU will have its regular-season opener Nov. 6 against Missouri State at thr WVU Coliseum.