SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – West Virginia missed its first 10 shots of the game. The Mountaineers still raced to a 13-0 lead over VCU.
Derek Culver had 23 points and 15 rebounds to help No. 15 West Virginia beat VCU 78-66 on Thursday in the Bad Boys Mowers Crossover Classic semifinals.
“I try to play hard on the defensive end and the offense was just going to follow,” Culver said. “I just ended up getting in there and playing hard.”
West Virginia (2-0) will face Western Kentucky in the final Friday.
“That’s the neat thing about a tournament like this,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “Three games in three days with three different styles of play, three different styles of coaching.”
Culver rebounded from a seven-point game Wednesday night in the Mountaineers’ opening victory over South Dakota State, finishing two shy of his career high. He was 8 of 14 from the field.
Sean McNeil added 16 points, and Oscar Tshiebwe had 11 points and 16 rebounds.
Nah’Shon Hyland led the Rams (1-1) with 13 points.
VCU missed its first nine shots, finally scoring on a goaltending call midway through the first half. The Rams rallied with a full-court press and cut it to two with five minutes left in the half.
West Virginia had 21 turnovers.
“We would have done a much better job if we would have time to prepare,” Huggins said. “We haven’t worked on a press breaker. We will, obviously. We’re still awfully young. We’re not quite as seasoned as some of the other people are.”
West Virginia led by nine at the break. After the Rams cut it to three early in the second half, the Mountaineers opened a 16-point lead.
West Virginia’s length on the inside was again a factor. The Mountaineers had 23 offensive rebounds and scored 25 second-half points. They had 17 offensive rebounds and 18 second-chance points in their opener over South Dakota State.
West Virginia: Vs. Western Kentucky in championship game Friday.
VCU: Vs Memphis in third-place game Friday.