MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Esa Ahmad and Sagaba Konate both had career days as West Virginia toppled Valparaiso 88-76 on Saturday afternoon at the Coliseum.
Ahmad tallied a career-high 30 points on 12-of-15 shooting from the field. Konate notched a double-double, scoring a career-high 26 points and grabbing 10 boards. He was 5-of-8 from beyond the arc.
“Esa is very, very good at playing without the ball,” head coach Bob Huggins said. “He cuts without the ball. He understands if a guy turns his head he can cut by him. He does a good job of curling into the rim.”
Lamont West chipped in 11 points for the Mountaineers (3-2).
The Crusaders (3-3) had four players finish in double figures. Derrik Smith had 20 points. Ryan Fazekas scored 15 points. Markus Golder added 13 and Bakari Evelyn 10.
WVU outrebound Valparaiso 35-28. The Mountaineers continued to improve in the turnover department, committing just seven miscues.
WVU shot 49 percent from the floor, 41 percent from 3-point range and 77 percent from the free throw line
Ahmad did most of his damage in the first half and his jumper with 48 seconds left gave the Mountaineers a 39-36 edge at the break.
In the second half, Konate heated up and scored 13 of WVU’s first 13 points, including three 3s.
But the Crusaders continued to answer before a 9-0 run for the Mountaineers helped them pull away.
Ahmad’s jumper with 1:02 remaining gave WVU its largest lead at 88-74.
Valparaiso shot 53 percent from the field, 45 percent from long range and 70 percent from the line.
Beetle Bolden missed his second consecutive game due to an elbow injury.
“That’s the worst place you can get swelling,” Huggins said.
The Mountaineers play Rider on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. (ET).
Cover Photo Credit: Ashley O’Brien, BGS