MORGANTOWN - West Virginia had little trouble outscoring Marquette's second team. The Golden Eagles' first team was a different story.
West Virginia led 32-21 at halftime Friday night as Golden Eagles starters Darius Johnson-Odom, Vander Blue, and Junior Cadougan all sat out with suspensions.
They returned in the second half to score 23 points and pull down 12 rebounds in leading No. 10 Marquette to a 61-60 victory against a struggling West Virginia team.
Marquette's Jae Crowder (32) blocks the shot of West Virginia's Deniz Kilicli.
The Mountaineers (17-12 overall, 7-9 Big East), who have lost seven of their last nine, felt they should have had more in the wake of Marquette's lost starters.
"That's something we're supposed to take advantage of," said WVU guard Truck Bryant, who had a team-best 25 points but missed a fade away 15-footer at the buzzer that would have snapped what is now a four-game home losing streak. "Our first team was out there. That's their second team. We were trying to get out to a good lead. We were clicking on offense but we weren't on defense."
As it was, West Virginia held a 22-11 rebounding edge, and didn't allow the Golden Eagles a single offensive rebound. It also had a 13-point lead that turned into a 15-point advantage fewer than 2 minutes into the second half.
From there, the Marquette trio took over, scoring all of its team's bench points and each playing all 20 minutes of the second half. They helped the Golden Eagles avoid the same type of upset they experienced four years earlier, when they arrived at the WVU Coliseum as the No. 10 team in the country - and lost 79-64.
Kevin Jones, who made his 100th career start Friday night, had just one rebound at halftime and finished with 12 points and six rebounds. He said the problem in this one was the same as nearly all the rest of WVU's losses.
"We give effort a lot of the time," he said, "but not as much as we can, and not enough to win."
The Mountaineers' lead had fully evaporated with Blue's steal and breakaway dunk that gave the Eagles a 46-45 edge with 7:16 remaining.
The Golden Eagles (24-5, 13-3), who beat West Virginia twice last season, including once in the Big East Tournament, were led by 26 points from Jae Crowder, who helped keep them afloat in the first half.
West Virginia failed in a bid to move into a tie for eighth place in the Big East with two games to play. The top eight teams get a bye and avoid playing a first-day game at the league tournament.
"Because we don't play the whole game," WVU coach Bob Huggins said. "We take plays off. When they run the ball at you the way they run the ball at you and you can't get back, you're not going to win.
"We're just not consistent in our effort, in our daily approach to what's supposed to happen."