West Virginia got off to 10-0 lead and never trailed in an 83-71 win over Notre Dame on Saturday to become the first team to punch its ticket to the Sweet 16 of the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
If the always defensively-tough Mountaineers can shoot the ball as well as they did against the Irish in Buffalo, they may be sticking around thistournament for a while.
Notre Dame got within striking distance of the lead on several occasions, but West Virginia answered every time with a combination of ball-hawking defense and efficient shooting.
The Mountaineers full-court pressed the Irish into 10 first-half turnovers —Notre Dame came into the game averaging just 9.3 points per game and had the second-best turnover-to-assist ratio in the country. The Irish finished the game with 14 turnovers.
Taking a 42-35 lead into the second half, West Virginia shot 58 percent from the field the rest of the way, makingfive of six from 3-point range.
Guard Jevon Carter led West Virginia with 24 points.
Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson scored a game-high 27, but more telling was V.J. Beachem, the Irish’s second leading scorer, making just two of 12 shots, including one of nine from long range, to finish with just nine points.
Next Thursday in San Jose, the No. 4 seed Mountaineers will face the winner of Saturday's game featuring No. 8 Northwestern vs. No. 1 Gonzaga.