MORGANTOWN - There's relying on three players, and then there's doing what West Virginia did Thursday night in a 55-51 loss against Notre Dame at the WVU Coliseum.
Kevin Jones, Deniz Kilicli and Jabarie Hinds scored all but four points for the Mountaineers, who lost for the fourth time in five games despite rebounding from what was an historically poor first half.
It was there West Virginia (16-9 overall, 6-6 Big East) scored 16 points, shot 24.1 percent (7 of 29) and trailed by 10 to the Irish (16-8, 8-3), who won their fifth straight, with three of those victories coming against ranked teams (and three of the five on the road).
Hinds hit two shots in the first 4-plus minutes - a dunk and a 3-pointer - then WVU went the rest of the half with just five more field goals, three by Jones and two by Kilicli.
It was the worst first half for a WVU team since scoring 16 against Villanova in March 2010, but that was on the road.
In what proved to be the Mountaineers' worst loss in the Coliseum - a 1980 loss to Duquesne - they scored just 12 points in the first half. That team wound up scoring 38, one less than a clunker against Cincinnati in Huggins' first year back at his alma mater. West Virginia had 23 points at halftime of that game, though.
Notre Dame 55, WVU 51
NOTRE DAME (16-8, 8-3 Big East)
Eric Atkins 3-9 0-0 7, Pat Connaughton 0-3 0-0 0, Scott Martin 5-7 0-0 12, Jerian Grant 4-17 2-2 12, Jack Cooley 7-9 7-10 21, Mike Broghammer 0-0 0-0 0, Alex Dragicevich 1-2 1-2 3. TOTALS 20-47 10-14 55.
WVU (16-9, 6-6 Big East)
Darryl Bryant 0-6 0-0 0, Jabarie Hinds 8-12 0-0 17, Kevin Jones 6-15 1-1 14, Deniz Kilicli 8-14 0-0 16, Keaton Miles 0-2 0-0 0, Gary Browne 2-6 0-2 4, Dominique Rutledge 0-0 0-0 0, Aaron Brown 0-3 0-0 0. TOTALS 24-58 1-3 51.
Halftime score: Notre Dame 26, WVU 16
3-point goals: Notre Dame 5-21 (Atkins 1-7, Connaughton 0-3, Martin 2-3, Grant 2-7, Dragicevich 0-1); WVU 2-16 (Bryant 0-3, Hinds 1-3, Jones 1-3, Miles 0-1, Browne 0-3, Brown 0-3). Rebounds: Notre Dame 31 (Cooley 12); WVU 33 (Jones 12). Assists: Notre Dame 8 (Grant 3, Dragicevich 3); WVU 12 (Bryant 8). Turnovers: Notre Dame 5, WVU 3.
The worst half of basketball anywhere in WVU history was the two points it scored against Pitt in January 1931.
Playing with a little more bounce in their step in the second half, WVU came all the way back to tie it - after trailing for nearly 26 full minutes on a Jones jumper with 7:09 remaining in the game. West Virginia took its first lead at 41-40 nearly 2 minutes later when Jones hit a 3-pointer from the corner.
Down the stretch, Notre Dame got 3-pointers by Eric Atkins, Jerian Grant and Scott Martin to erase that deficit and take a six-point lead into the final minute.
Hinds led the Mountaineers with 17 points, Kilicli added 16 and Jones finished with 14, ending a streak of nine straight games where he scored at least 20 points. He did pull down 12 rebounds for his 16th double-double of the season.
Jack Cooley led the Irish with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Martin and Grant each added 12.
West Virginia made 17 of 29 shots in the second half (58.6 percent) and shaved eight percentage points off Notre Dame's first-half percentage.
Gary Browne scored the other four points for WVU.