Johnson suffers first loss as Hokies' head coach

BLACKSBURG, VA (WWBT) - Virginia Tech guard Erick Green scored 23 points, but couldn't connect on a jumper at the buzzer, as the Hokies fell to West Virginia 68-67 in a nonconference game played at WVU Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.

The loss marked Tech's first of the season, dropping the Hokies to 7-1 overall. West Virginia moved to 4-3 overall and snapped a two-game game losing streak to the Hokies, as the two programs separated by four hours of roads and mountains resumed their longtime rivalry after an eight-year hiatus.

It was also the first loss in the head coaching career of Powhatan native James Johnson, who is in his first year at the head of the bench.

The Hokies were in position to win the game after forward Robert Brown banked in a 3-pointer with 18 seconds remaining to give Tech a 67-66 lead. But West Virginia's Juwan Staten took advantage of some confusion on Tech's part, scoring on an open layup with five seconds remaining to give the Mountaineers a 68-67 lead. It was Staten's only basket of the game.

The Hokies called timeout with 3.4 seconds left after Staten's basket, and they got the ball into the hands of Green. The senior guard drove into the lane and lofted a jumper that bounced off the rim as time expired, enabling the Mountaineers to escape with a one-point victory.

Green scored 14 of his 23 points in the second half. He hit 8 of 19 from the floor for the game, including 2 of 5 from beyond the 3-point arc. He also dished out a career-high 10 assists.

Green and Brown teamed for 45 of the Hokies' 67 points. Brown scored a career-high 21 points, hitting 9 of 19 from the floor, including 2 of 7 from beyond the arc.

But the two of them weren't enough on a day in which Jarell Eddie played just 20 minutes because of foul trouble, the Hokies shot just 41.5 percent from the floor and Tech got out-rebounded 49-38. West Virginia finished with 23 offensive rebounds and 18 second-chance points.

West Virginia got huge games from a pair of unlikely sources. Junior center Aaric Murray scored a career-high 15 points and hit a career-high two 3-pointers. Also, sophomore Kevin Noreen, a 6-10 forward who came into the game averaging 1.3 points per game, finished with a double-double, scoring a career-high 14 points and grabbing a career-high 12 rebounds. Noreen hit two 3-pointers – the first two of his career.

The Hokies do not have much time to lament this loss, as they take to the court on Monday night when Mississippi Valley State comes to Cassell Coliseum as part of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.