CONWAY, S.C.–Esa Ahmad scored 16 points as West Virginia knocked off Monmouth 71-53 in the opening round of the Myrtle Beach Invitational on Thursday night.
Sagaba Konate had 14 points, eight rebounds and four blocks. Beetle Bolden and Jordan McCabe each added nine points apiece.
The Mountaineers (1-1) overcame a slow start to come from behind and beat the Hawks (0-4).
Monmouth took its first lead with 11:38 left in the first half when Deion Hammond drained a 3-pointer.
However, Konate completed a 3-point play to spark a 13-4 run over the final six minutes of the first have that gave WVU a 36-31 lead at the half.
In the second half, the Hawks pulled within two on Mustapha Traore’s layup and dunk 28 seconds later.
The Mountaineers found their groove and scored the next nine points to spark a 25-6 run. Bolden’s steal and easy layup under the basket made it a 66-45 game with 1:58 left.
Hammond led Monmouth with 10 points.
WVU forced 18 turnovers but once again, The Mountaineers handed the ball over 18 times.
“We didn’t pass the ball. We shot it too quick. We turned it over way too much,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “We’re still fighting our way through it.”
WVU had 39-32 edge on the boards.
The Mountaineers shot 46 percent from the floor and 26 percent from beyond the arc.
The Hawks shot 35 percent from the field and 39 percent from 3-point range.
WVU plays Western Kentucky on Friday at 9 p.m. ET.
Cover Photo Credit: Ashley O’Brien, BGS