Marquette guard Darryl Morsell drives for a layup against West Virginia in the first half.

Marquette guard Darryl Morsell drives for a layup against West Virginia in the first half.

CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Marquette men’s basketball team is more than likely not going to go undefeated under new head coach Shaka Smart.

But the way the Golden Eagles are playing early in the season, it’s not crazy to wonder what this team is capable of accomplishing.

MU rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit and beat a veteran West Virginia, 82-71, on Friday to reach the finals of the Charleston Classic.

The Golden Eagles (5-0) will play No. 22 St. Bonaventure (4-0) in the title game Sunday.

BOX SCORE: Marquette 82, West Virginia 71

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MU guard Tyler Kolek got out of a shooting slump to score 18 points against the Mountaineers (3-1). Justin Lewis added 17 for the Golden Eagles.

MU started better than it did against Mississippi on Thursday. The Golden Eagles hit four of their first eight shots against West Virginia and took a 10-8 lead.

But starting center Kur Kuath picked up his second foul at the 14:17 mark and the Golden Eagles missed the 6-foot-10 graduate transfer’s rim protection.

MU’s offense also stagnated and the Mountaineers went on a 17-2 run to take a 25-16 lead.

Kolek came into the game mired in a shooting slump, going 9 for 30 and 3 for 15 on threes over the first four games. He missed his first three shots against West Virginia but made his next three, including a triple that brought MU within 38-33.

But West Virginia ripped off a 9-0 run to take its largest first-half lead at 47-33, capped by a three-pointer from Sean McNeil with 42 seconds left.

Kolek hit a runner in the paint to stop the bleeding and the Golden Eagles got a defensive stop to go into the locker room down, 47-35.

West Virginia was able to get comfortable looks, finishing 18 for 31 (58.1%) in the opening 20 minutes. Taz Sherman had 14 points to lead the Mountaineers.

Kolek had 10 points in the first half.

MU’s Greg Elliott, who was suspended for the first four games for a violation of team rules, made his season debut and checked in at the 9:34 mark.

The Golden Eagles, who have proved to be a resilient bunch this season, ripped off a 13-0 run early in the second half to take a 55-54 lead when Lewis knocked in a three-pointer with 13:25 remaining.

Sherman ended the run with a midrange jumper, but Kuath had a powerful, one-handed dunk off a nice pass from Lewis.

MU freshman Kam Jones, coming off an 18-point effort Thursday, nailed back-to-back three-pointers for a 63-60 lead.

It looked like Sherman had gotten West Virginia within 66-65, but after a video review by the officials, the shot was waved off.

Jones hit another set of back-to-back triples for a 71-65 lead. His second shot was initially ruled a two-pointer but upon review it was found to be a three.

MU kept making good things happen.

Elliott made a huge hustle play, diving on the floor for a loose ball and a tie-up that gave MU possession. Then Kolek drove and found Oso Ighodaro for a nice pass and a 74-66 lead.

Kolek added a layup a few minutes later for a 76-68 lead.

Sherman hit three free throws to get West Virginia within 76-71, but MU hit its free throws down the stretch.

MU hadn’t played West Virginia, a former Big East foe, since Feb. 24, 2012. Smart is also familiar with the Mountaineers’ style after going 7-6 against them in the Big 12 Conference when he was head coach at Texas.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Marquette Golden Eagles beat West Virginia to reach Charleston Classic title game


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