CHARLESTON - Some memories are hard to forget.
For West Virginia University senior basketball players Kevin Jones and Darryl Bryant one of those was last year's 75-71 loss to instate rival Marshall University in the Capital Classic.
The Mountaineer duo made sure it wouldn't be two losses in a row to the Thundering Herd Wednesday night at the Civic Center as they combined for 47 points and 14 rebounds to lead WVU to a 78-62 victory.
"It (the win) meant a lot to us (the seniors)," explained Jones, who was selected as WVU's Player of the Game. "Especially coming off of the loss last year."
Words echoed by his long-time teammate Bryant.
"It's bragging rights for me for the rest of my life," said Bryant, who finished with 22 points and seven rebounds. "They had the bragging rights after last year, but now I will have them forever."
WEST VIRGINIA 78, MARSHALL 62
Tinnon 3-7 0-0 6, Goff 1-3 0-0 2, Pitts 6-13 0-0 15, Johnson 2-7 2-2 7, Kane 9-18 1-1 19, Pena 2-4 0-0 5, Spikes 1-3 0-3 2, Coleman 3-5 0-0 6, Mbao 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-60 3-6 62.
WEST VIRGINIA (14-5)
Jones 8-12 6-6 25, Noreen 3-5 0-0 6, Miles 0-1 0-0 0, Hinds 5-6 0-0 10, Bryant 7-20 6-7 22, Rutledge 0-1 1-2 1, Brown 2-2 0-1 4, Browne 3-7 4-6 10. Totals 28-54 17-22 78.
Halftime-Tied 30-30. 3-Point Goals-Marshall 5-19 (Pitts 3-7, Pena 1-3, Johnson 1-3, Coleman 0-1, Kane 0-5), West Virginia 5-14 (Jones 3-4, Bryant 2-8, Browne 0-2). Fouled Out-None. Rebounds-Marshall 27 (Tinnon 10), West Virginia 37 (Bryant, Jones 7). Assists-Marshall 11 (Johnson, Kane, Pitts 3), West Virginia 13 (Hinds, Jones 3). Total Fouls-Marshall 20, West Virgini
The 16-point margin was as much of a surprise on the night as Bryant's seven rebounds. Eleven of the last 13 meetings between the two schools had been decided by single digits, including two overtime contests.
It appeared early as if Marshall would be the team enjoying the fruits of victory as the Thundering Herd roared out to a seven-point, 27-20, advantage on a DeAndre Kane layup with 3:10 remaining in the first half.
However, a rebound bucket by Aaron Browne ignited a 10-3 run by the Mountaineers over the final three minutes to send the game to the half tied at 30.
"We just didn't do a good job down the stretch in the first half," explained Marshall head coach Tom Herrion. "It was a really bad finish to the half and I don't think we responded well at the start of the second half."
One player who did respond was Bryant as he gave WVU the lead with a short jump shot in the lane with 18:34 left in the game. The Brooklyn-native then took advantage of a Jabarie Hinds steal 14 seconds later to score his second layup of the half, 34-32.
Marshall fought back to regain a one-point, 35-34, lead when Damier Pitts drilled a triple from the right of the foul lane. But that would be the Thundering Herd's final lead of the game as a bucket by Kevin Noreen, who was forced into a starting role due to a high ankle sprain suffered by Deniz Kilicli that kept him on the bench, sent WVU on a 10-2 run from which Marshall was never able to recover.
Jones, who scored a game-high 25 points and chipped in seven rebounds and three assists, tallied six of his points during the all-important spurt while Hinds, who finished with 10 points, added two more buckets.
"We talked a lot at the half about throwing the ball to the guys who wore the blue and gold," said WVU head coach Bobby Huggins. "We gave up five layups in the first half off of our own bad passes, so I told the kids that if they had to throw the ball away, that they should throw it in the stands."
That didn't happen and Marshall's field goal percentage, which was 52 percent in the first 20 minutes of action, dropped to 40 percent in the second half.
"That's what we have to do," continued Huggins. "We have to take care of the basketball and rebound and we did both of those in the second half."
West Virginia, now 14-5, returns to action on Saturday when it plays host to Cincinnati in a huge Big East game at 3 p.m. at the Coliseum while Marshall, now 13-5, returns to Conference-USA play when it travels to Southern Mississippi for a 6 p.m. contest on Saturday.
"This was a big win for us," said Jones. "It is always nice to get out of the Big East for a game now and then and it is even better when we win those games.
"Marshall is a very good team and they are having a really good season, so to beat them is really big for this team right now."