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Net Metering proposed settlement welcomed by solar advocates

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Public Service Commission is expected to rule soon on a settlement that will impact the solar energy industry in West Virginia.

Dan Conant

Mon Power and Potomac Edison, with subsidies from First Energy, have reached a net metering settlement that will affect homeowners, businesses, non-profits, and schools that use solar panels.

The proposed settlement was announced earlier this month and is awaiting a decision from the PSC.

Solar Holler, Solar United Neighbors, Energy Efficient West Virginia, the PSC West Virginia Consumer Advocate Division, and the Citizen Action Group successfully argued cutting the rate for the power panels sent back to the grid by as much as 7 cents was not fair. The current rate is 11 to 13 cents, and the First Energy proposal would have cut that rate to 6.6 cents, according to Dan Conant, founder and CEO of Solar Holler.

“We made the case that what First Energy was proposing in terms of cutting the value of solar by more than half just wasn’t fair to families and folks that have solar panels,” Conant said.

The settlement provides a grandfather clause for people with solar equipment and for those who plan to add a solar option by the end of the year. The existing customers will be able to keep the grandfather rate for the next 25 years as well.

“You get one credit for a kilowatt hour for every kilowatt you put on the grid,” Conant said. “So, a full one-to-one retail net metering if you apply to hook in your panels by this December.”

Conant participated in the case and said the argument for the new rate was centered around everything First Energy does not have to do when the energy they sell to customers is sent back to the grid by a customer with solar panels. Costs associated with power plant operations, capacity, and high voltage line operations are all costs that the team delineated in order to reach the settlement.

“As a result of that math and negotiation, we were able to come up with a new rate that is 9.3 cents, which every family, church, farm, and factory will be able to get across the state,” Conant said.

Conant said the settlement terms for net metering are some of best in the country.

As part of the settlement, net metering rates will fluctuate as the market changes each year.

“So, there’s a natural built-in adjustment period every year, and it can go up or down,” Conant said. “It just depends on what the true value of the electricity is each year.”

Conant said they stopped selling in the First Energy service area last fall as the case was negotiated, but he said they are fielding questions and working with potential customers again. In 2023, Solar Holler did about $20 million in business, and Conant hopes to push that number closer to $30 million this year.

“We have 105 full-time staff around the state of West Virginia, including electricians, awesome unionized crew members that bring the projects to life, but also the finance people, designers, engineers, and everybody,” Conant said.

If approved by the PSC, the rate becomes effective March 27. Customers applying for net metering on or after Jan. 1, 2025, will be subject to the new rates.

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Southern Airways set passenger record in Morgantown in 2023

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Southern Airways reported the highest number of passengers in 2023 since first landing at the Morgantown Municipal Airport in 2017.

Jonathon Vrabel

The airways said a total of 13,871 people flew from Morgantown last year up from 13,530 in 2022.

“Southern Airways boarded almost 14,000 passengers which is a new record for them,” Morgantown Municipal Airport director Jonathan Vrabel said on WAJR’s “Talk of the Town.” “It’s the largest number of passengers since 2011.”

The number of available pilots has been shrinking due to a wave of retirements, increased training requirements, and fewer military-trained pilots available. In 2022, Southern Airways was hit hard during the post-pandemic travel rebound when major airlines lured pilots away from smaller carriers. But Southern Airways has been addressing the issue in Morgantown.

“They seem to have resolved a lot of that in the Morgantown market,” Vrabel said. “We haven’t had any delays or cancellations for the last two months now because of crews; they’re doing really well now.”

MGW offers daily service to and from the Washington Dulles Airport (IAD) and the Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT). Vrabel said that between those two connections, residents can travel anywhere in the world.

“You show up here a half-hour or 45 minutes before your flight; you don’t need to be here three hours prior like other airports,” Vrabel said. “It’s nice and convenient; you fly up there, grab your connection, and go wherever you’re headed.”

Passengers and enplanements are two different things. 

The Essential Air Service (EAS) program, established in 1978, provides a subsidy to airlines to cover costs associated with operating from rural airports. The Morgantown Municipal Airport needs 10,000 enplanements to qualify for $1 million, falling below as they have every year since 2011 dropped that figure to $15,000.

Vrabel said airlines are expected to bid for the right to provide EAS from Morgantown this July, and there are some new airlines entering the EAS market.

“I’m hoping to see this July, when we look at our bid, maybe we’ll get some of those carriers coming back into the market that provide light jet service,” Vrabel said. “We’re looking at those, and we’re optimistic.”

Vrabel also said they would like to find a carrier outside the EAS program that could offer services to popular destinations in the future.

“What about seasonal service, something beyond EAS?” Vrabel asked. “And they’re very interested in doing that too, so we may get something like a non-stop flight from here to Myrtle Beach or from here to possibly even something like Orlando.”

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Larry Groce to be inducted into Folk Radio Music Hall of Fame

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Legendary West Virginia entertainer Larry Groce is adding another honor to his list of awards and accomplishments in the music industry.

Larry Groce

Groce, the former artistic director and host of the live performance radio show Mountain Stage, recently learned he’ll be inducted into the Folk Radio Hall of Fame.

Groce said he owes a lot to Mountain Stage.

“I appreciate that they’re giving me the honor, but I know, in a great part, it goes to Mountain Stage which is not a single person’s doing,” he told MetroNews.

Groce was born in Dallas, Texas and made West Virginia his forever home in 1972. He said anytime he’s recognized for his work in West Virginia, it’s a big deal.

“I love this state so much that anytime I get an honor that has West Virginia on it, it’s unbelievable to me,” he said. “It’s been a wonderful ride for which I’m totally grateful. I’ve been here 51 years and I feel like this is my home.”

Groce previously served as host of Mountain State, produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting and distributed by NPR Music, since its inception in 1983 until 2021.

The show has featured over 2,000 different artists from across the country and around the world and is heard by thousands of listeners each week on radio and podcasts.

Groce is a Grammy nominee who recorded 24 albums and the Top Ten single, “Junk Food Junkie””

Folk music holds a special place in his heart, Groce said.

“It’s like my voice to your ear. That’s what folk music really is. It’s people taking it and singing it to other people. It’s not so important who wrote the songs or if the songs get played a lot. What’s important is does it go heart-to-heart?” he said.

Groce has been inducted into the West Virginia Music and West Virginia Broadcasting Halls of Fame.

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WVU prepares for Campus Self-Defense Act implementation

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. –  West Virginia University is making preparations for the implementation of the Campus Self Defense Act that goes into effect on July 1.

Corey Farris

The law, created by state lawmakers last year, will allow people to carry concealed deadly weapons, with an exception, as long as the person has a valid permit to carry them.

The process started last with the formation of a committee led by WVU Dean of students Corey Farris and Sharon Martin, vice president of university relations and enrollment management. From there, a steering committee and four subcommittees have worked to develop the policy.

“The committee has been diligently working through the details of the legislation as well as connecting with other campuses around the country where similar legislation has been implemented to learn about their best practices,” Farris told members of WVU’s Board of Governors Friday.

The Campus Self-Defense Act allows institutions to establish exceptions to the law. The BOG approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for BOG Finance and Administration Rule 5.14—Deadly Weapons, Dangerous Objects, and W.Va. Campus Self-Defense Act. The 30-day comment period on the new rule begins Monday.

“The rule includes a list of areas in which deadly weapons are prohibited on campus even by those with a valid license to carry a concealed deadly weapon as permitted by the statute,” WVU Associate General Counsel Kylie Barnhart said.

Kylie Barnhart

The new web page has been launched for people looking for more information about the law. The web presence and FAQs will accompany an outreach effort in the coming months for both students and families that want more information.

“In addition to personal communication, we’ll be active on social media, and we’ll host a campus conversation this spring,” Martin said. “We’ll also include information in the new student orientation, in both the online module and the on-campus programming.”

Internally, the university is making sure staff members understand the law and the exceptions established by the university and are prepared to answer questions.

“Training will be key for all of our professionals on the front lines working with students and their families, and we’ll provide them with the materials they need to deal with questions and concerns,” Martin said.

The search for the next president of the university is moving forward. BOG member Dr. Patrice Harris leads the Ad Hoc Governance Committee, which will present a draft rule during a special meeting in March about the process.

“The committee is finalizing the details of a proposed board rule regarding the presidential search,” Harris said. “So, at a special board meeting in March, we plan to present that proposed rule regarding the process.”

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Marshall comes undone in second half, falls to Appalachian State, 65-58

— By David Walsh

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Kevon Voyles started Senior Night on a high note as he scored 14 first-half points to help Marshall to the lead over Appalachian State at the break, 29-23.

Midway through the second half, Voyles and his teammates saw their play go awry and the Mountaineers play like the Sun Belt Conference leader. Appalachian State drained four threes in the second half along with 12-of-15 free throws, many down the stretch, and knocked off the Thundering Herd, 65-58, in front of a sellout crowd of 5,711 at Cam Henderson Center and those watching the national broadcast on ESPN2.

“We played hard,” said Voyles, one of four seniors on the team. “We got to hit more shots. Back in the gym and shoot. We’re right there. Little mistakes.”

Voyles made a layup with 8:07 left to get the Herd within two (43-41) and get the crowd fired up. On their next trip down the floor, Myles Tate drained a three for the Mountaineers with 7:46 on the clock to get the lead back to five (46-41) and quiet the crowd a bit. From that point, the visitors made clutch shots and crucial free throws in the closing minutes to prevail.

Appalachian State (24-5, 14-2 SBC) trailed at the half 29-23. The first-half point total tied a season-low the Mountaineers had in a loss to UNC Asheville back on Dec. 21.

“We didn’t shoot well enough,” Herd coach Dan D’Antoni said. “Kids played hard. When you get 32 (24-of-72) and 13 (3-of-23 on threes) and you play the best team in the league, it won’t happen. We’ve got to get someone to put the ball in the bucket. I don’t know how to do that.”

Voyles hit 8-of-16 shots (two threes). Kamdyn Curfman, another senior matched Voyles with 19 points. He made 8-of-19, but only 1-of-8 from three. He’s the top three-point shooter in the league. Jacob Conner went 1-of-12 and Wyatt Fricks 1-of-6.

“Good news we competed, played hard enough to win. Bad news when we’re wide open you’ve got to make the shots,” D’Antoni said. “Against James Madison we didn’t compete the way you have to against the top teams in the league. Got to get our heads on straight. We’re good enough, athletic enough. The shots are going to come. It can turn on one night. Our team won’t quit on Marshall. Hope our fans don’t quit on us.”

Myles Tate led Appalachian State with 25 points. He canned 9-of-14 shots including four threes. Donovan Gregory scored 15 and Terence Harcum 12.

Marshall is 12-16, 7-9 SBC and lost five in a row. The Herd is tied with Georgia State for seventh. Marshall closes out the regular season with a swing through Georgia. The Herd visits Georgia Southern on Wednesday and Georgia State on Friday. Both games start at 7 p.m.

“Two games and then the tournament,” D’Antoni said. “We’ll fight to the end.”

The SBC Tournament is scheduled March 5-11 in Pensacola, Fla.

“We need everybody to step up,” Voyles, who came to the Herd from Maryland Eastern Shore via the transfer portal. “Get ready for these two, then go to Pensacola and shock some people.”

One player Voyles and D’Antoni want to see play like the team’s leading scorer is Obinna Anochili-Killen. He had just eight points and four rebounds. In the three previous games, he had a total of seven points.

“I tell him every day he’s our leading scorer,” Voyles said. “I want to see you do it. Go out and be confident. Keep going, the shots are going to fall.”

“He comes in and tries to get out of the slump,” D’Antoni said. “Sometimes it’s a mystery. I tell them don’t listen to social media.”

The Herd had some special guests arrive during the second half. With 15:21 left, the women’s team walked to halfcourt and got a standing ovation from the crowd. Earlier in the day, the Herd beat ULM to clinch at least a tie for the league’s regular-season title.

Marshall and Appalachian State used to be rivals in the Southern Conference. The Herd leads the series 34-20.

Marco Sarenac and Gordan Miladinovic are the other two seniors on the Marshall roster.

— — — — —

Not the best of starts for the Marshall women’s team, but that’s been nothing unusual this season.

UL Monroe outscored the Thundering Herd, 32-17, in the first period on its Senior Day. Then the Herd’s notable three-point shooting and pressure defense kicked in and the visitors chalked up 82 points over the next three periods (62 over the middle two) and defeated the Warhawks, 99-90, in Sun Belt play Saturday at Fant-Ewing Coliseum in Monroe, La.

Marshall (21-6, 15-1) clinched at least a share of the league’s regular-season title. The Herd, picked to finish ninth in the SBC Preseason Poll, closes out the regular season with two games next week. Georgia State is in Tuesday and Georgia Southern on Friday. Start time for both is 6 p.m.

Marshall connected on 13 three-pointers and netted 31 points off 21 ULM turnovers. Abby Beeman led the way with 25 points. Aislynn Hayes followed with 21, Breanna Campbell 20 and Sydni Scott 12.

Daisha Bradford paced the Warhawks (17-11, 9-7 SBC) with 29 points. Jaykala Johnson contributed 22, Sania Wells 13 and Katlyn Manuel 12. The Warhawks had five three-pointers.

This is the first time the Herd has had 20 or more regular-season wins since 1990-91. Marshall leads the series with ULM 2-1. This is ULM’s first winning season since 2010-11.

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PSC approves single-digit rate increase for West Virginia American Water

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Public Service Commission has approved an average 8% rate increase in water and sewer rates for West Virginia American Water Company, which is significantly less than the utility was seeking.

West Virginia American, the largest water utility in the state, filed for a 22.5% ($41.2 million) increase last May. The official filing was closer to $44 million after the PSC shifted a portion of the sewer costs to the water side.

The rate increase is also lower because the PSC agreed with the company’s decision to lower its system improvement charge (DSIC) by $10 million.

The PSC said Saturday the average water customer’s bill will increase $5.69 a month, the average sewer customer’s bill $5.59.

The increase took effect Saturday.

Several residents spoke out against the rate hike at a public hearing in November.

Customer Constance Nelson said the full rate hike would be hard on families.

“This rate increase would literally take food out of children’s mouths,” Nelson said. “We are barely, many of us, keeping our heads above water, yet the water company wants to drown us now.”

According to WVAWC, the proposed rate hike was reflection of investments in water and wastewater upgrades that have been made since 2020 and for upgrades projected through February 2025. Those investments total approximately $340 million.

The company defended its proposed hike during a December evidentiary hearing.

“It’s a very common occurrence when we make infrastructure investments and capital improvements, that those then are the main, key drivers for base rate cases,” said Robert Burton, president of West Virginia-American Water, in testimony.

Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper also testified during the evidentiary hearing.

“We’re asking the Public Service Commission to send a strong message and deny this rate increase,” Carper said. “It’s just not right that the water company gets a rate increase every time they ask for it. And they get one every time they ask for it. Not what they asked for because they don’t expect to get that. But they get one every time they ask for it. Perhaps today’s the day that they should not, and send them a message.”

The PSC explained its reasoning for the lower increase in a 53-page filing posted Saturday.

WVAWC has more than 560,000 customers in West Virginia.

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Just after closures result in hundreds of layoffs, Senate Finance moves bills to scale back safety net

Over the past couple of weeks, about 1,500 West Virginians have learned they’ll lose their jobs because big companies are shutting down their workplaces.

Cleveland-Cliffs announced its tinplate production plant in Weirton will idle in April, resulting in potential job losses for 900 workers. Then, Allegheny Wood Products closed its doors and eliminated about 600 jobs at multiple locations.

Despite all those job losses, the Senate Finance Committee on Saturday took up two bills that would significantly restrict unemployment benefits in West Virginia.

The bills now go to the full Senate. Members of the committee noted that very similar bills have come up in past years but have not become law.

Josh Sword

Organized labor leaders said they will urge their members to reach out to senators and delegates and tell them to reject any attempt to take away unemployment benefits.

“This is quite possibly the most heartless act I’ve seen in my 25 years of representing working people at the Capitol,” said Josh Sword, president of West Virginia AFL-CIO.

“To take earned benefits away from nearly 2,000 hard-working people who are losing their jobs through no fault of their own is unimaginably cruel and completely unnecessary.”

The changes, if instituted, would kick in July 1 — likely affecting people coping with unemployment after that date.

Workforce West Virginia’s director testified before the committee that the overriding reason for the changes would be shoring up the state’s unemployment trust fund. Right now, the trust fund has a balance of $387,657,779.05.

State officials cited economic models showing that a prolonged unemployment rate of 10% could bankrupt the trust fund in 91 weeks. In other words, the state’s unemployment trust fund could go just short of two years during a recession considered severe before being exhausted.

Scott Adkins

“We’re trying to be proactive because we’re going in the wrong direction on that trust fund balance,” Scott Adkins, acting director of Workforce West Virginia, told senators.

“Severe recession — 18 months, and we’ll be looking to this body for funding or we’ll be looking to the feds.”

Senate Bill 840 makes a range of changes, most significantly using West Virginia’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate to determine the maximum number of weeks of benefit eligibility. So, for example, if the average unemployment rate is below 5.5 percent, the maximum duration of benefits would be 12 weeks.

The most recently released figures showed West Virginia’s unemployment rate at 4.3 percent. The current maximum duration for unemployment benefits is 26 weeks.

That bill specifies that West Virginians would only remain eligible for unemployment benefits if they conduct at least four work search activities each week. There are 10 activities that would qualify, like completing job applications or taking a civil service exam.

The bill lowers the maximum weekly benefit rate from its current 66 and two thirds of the average weekly wage in West Virginia down to 55 percent. The amount is not to exceed $550, according to the bill.

Senate Bill 841 focuses on  unemployment taxes and benefits. It’s a companion bill that reflects some of the changes proposed by SB 840.

Jack Woodrum

Lawmakers on the Senate Finance Committee brought up the situations at Cleveland-Cliffs and Allegheny Wood Products, wondering how they might affect the state.

“Recently we’ve had two major employers in the state that have closed their doors. How’s that gonna impact the fund?” asked Senator Jack Woodrum, R-Summers.

Adkins said the closures will have significant effects, even as the state works to help laid off employees find other jobs as quickly as possible. “It could have a major impact on the trust fund, sure,” he said.

Mike Oliverio

Senator Mike Oliverio, R-Monongalia, also asked about the effects of closures like the one at Alleghany Wood Products.

“I’m just anxious about this trigger that could limit employment benefits when we have people who are pretty good wage earners. Oftentimes we think about unemployment comp for folks in lower wage classifications, but these are folks with pretty good wages and as they attempt to replace that on a temporary basis I’m a little bit anxious about us stepping in with a cap right now.”

Oliverio wanted to know if there are alternatives.

Adkins said that’s up to the Legislature.

“I mean, I don’t want to convey that the trust fund’s in dire straits. It’s not. It’s in pretty good shape,” he said. “But a major recession coming down the pike could have a pretty significant impact on the trust fund.”

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Polar Bears cap regular season with 21st win, 43-33 over Charleston Catholic

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Highlights and photo gallery from Fairmont Senior’s 43-33 win over Charleston Catholic.

(Highlights and photo gallery by Teran Malone)

Fairmont Senior (21-1):

  • Zycheus Dobbs – 18 points
  • Andre Grant – 14 points

Charleston Catholic (18-4):

  • Jayallen Turner – 20 points

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WVU erases 12-point fourth-quarter deficit, falls in final seconds to Baylor, 66-65

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Trailing by 12 points with nine minutes to play against Baylor, the WVU women’s basketball team used a furious comeback to take a 65-64 lead with a minute remaining. The Mountaineers, who made just about every clutch play throughout the course of the fourth quarter to take the lead, made one critical error in the final seconds in falling to the Bears, 66-65.

Leading by a point with eight seconds to play and with possession in front of their own bench, West Virginia turned the ball over and Baylor capitalized with a pair of free throws to leave Morgantown with a regular season sweep of the Mountaineers.

Junior guard JJ Quinerly, who accounted for over half of WVU’s scoring in a career-best 33-point effort, lost control of the inbounds pass near the midcourt stripe. Baylor’s Jada Walker collected the steal along the baseline, drove to the hoop and was fouled. Walker was injured on the play and was forced to leave the game.

“I thought Jada made an unbelievable play,” Baylor head coach Nicki Collen said. “I actually feel a little bit bad in some ways except for the fact that, I am not saying we didn’t deserve to win, but Quinerly had such an unbelievable game. For her to foul out on that last play, she was so good tonight.”

“The ball went in the air. I went to catch it. I kind of bobbled it a little bit. Things happen. You never know when certain things are going to happen or when you’re going to make a mistake. They capitalized on it,” Quinerly said.

“We can’t sit here and dwell on it. No matter how mad I want to be right now, We’ve still got stuff to do and we’ve still got games to play.”

“I could have been better. Her teammates could have been better for her. Without her, we wouldn’t even have been in that situation,” said WVU head coach Mark Kellogg. “She probably got a little sped up and was probably trying to take some time off and dribble it around. There’s nothing wrong with that. She tried to make a play to get back in it.”

Collen had to choose a player on the bench to enter the game for the free throws. Collen selected Jana Van Gytenbeek and she drained both shots from the charity stripe to put the Bears up 66-65 with 4.3 seconds remaining.

“Jana doesn’t go to the line a lot. But I just really believed the way she has been playing lately that she could rise to the occasion there,” Collen said.

Without the benefit of a timeout, WVU needed to go the length of the floor for a potential go-ahead shot. Jordan Harrison, who scored 16 points, drove into the lane but had her shot blocked as time expired.

“Get the ball in her hands and get her with some momentum. She is pretty elite and dynamic with the ball in her hands. They were back and they were kind of taking away the paint,” said Kellogg.

“I loved the rally. I loved the fight. Quinerly almost singlehandedly kept us in that thing, her and Jordan. They were about the only two that had anything going offensively.”

While the late-game sequence will be lamented by the Mountaineers, the third quarter proved to be West Virginia’s undoing. The Mountaineers led 28-25 at halftime but they were outscored 25-14 in the third stanza.

“I think our defense just wasn’t that good. Our rotations were slow We weren’t really talking in transition. We were just having some mental breakdowns on defense” Harrison said.

“We have traditionally been pretty good in the third quarter throughout the year. We just didn’t have the right look about us,” Kellogg said.

Walker scored two baskets in the opening minute of the fourth quarter to give the Bears a game-best 12-point lead at 54-42. However, West Virginia chipped away at the deficit. An 11-2 run was capped by a Quinerly triple with a minute to go, putting the Mountaineers up 65-64.

“That’s a read play for her and a feel. She kind of hesitates all the time on that three,” Kellogg said.

“It looked good as soon as it left her hands.”

Harrison and Quinerly combined for 49 of WVU’s 65 points.

A crowd of 5,616 made their way inside a snow-covered WVU Coliseum on a day where 50 years of WVU women’s basketball were celebrated throughout the game.

Five Bears scored in double-digits. They were led by Sarah Andrews’ 14-point effort. Darianna Littlepage-Buggs scored 11 points and Bella Fontelroy, Aijha Blackwell and Van Guytenbeek each scored 10 points.

West Virginia (22-5, 11-5 Big 12) has lost back-to-back games for just the second time this season. They still lead Baylor (21-6, 10-6) by a game for fourth place in the Big 12 and control of the last double-bye spot in the upcoming Big 12 Conference Tournament.

“This one hurts but we don’t really have time to dwell on it too long. We’ll have to regroup. Every time this team has kind of been hit, we have seemed to respond all year,” Kellogg said.

“We have lost to really quality basketball teams. There’s no question. The hurdle for us is to continue to try to beat those teams. We have a couple times. But we would like to have a couple of them back.”

The Mountaineers will play their final regular season road game at Oklahoma State Tuesday before hosting TCU on March 2.

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Turnovers costly for Mountaineers in 71-64 loss at No. 6 Iowa State

West Virginia did a lot of things well to hang with No. 6 Iowa State for 30-plus minutes Saturday at Hilton Coliseum.

Ultimately, the Mountaineers’ inability to get enough shots at the basket as a result of a season-high 23 turnovers prevented them from doing something they have yet to this season in 11 tries — win away from home.

The Cyclones had a 29-8 advantage in points off turnovers and pulled away late for a 71-64 victory to remain in the thick of the Big 12 Conference regular season race.

“We get to a situation where we can kind of grind the game down the stretch and we just lacked some poise in certain situations,” West Virginia interim head coach Josh Eilert said. “Going into the game, the key was pretty obvious for anybody that watches any Iowa State game — it was going to be taking care of the ball. With 23 turnovers and to give up 29 points, you’re not going to win in Hilton. It’s crazy that it was a seven-point game looking at those numbers.”

Trailing 40-30 at halftime, West Virginia (9-18, 4-10) cut that margin in half less than 3 minutes into the second half when Kerr Kriisa hit a three-pointer to trim the Cyclones’ advantage to 42-37. 

A triple from fellow WVU guard Noah Farrakhan with 13:51 to play again had the Mountaineers facing a five-point deficit and marked the start of an 11-2 spurt that gave the visitors their only second-half lead.

Also during that stretch, RaeQuan Battle made one of his two baskets and Josiah Harris accounted for a conventional three-point play that tied the game at 48 with 12:14 left.

Although the Mountaineers didn’t score again for 3-plus minutes, when they did, a Kobe Johnson trey left West Virginia with a 51-50 lead at the 9:05 mark.

From that point forward, however, WVU went scoreless for more than 6 minutes, during which time the Mountaineers had seven turnovers and missed four shots until a Kriisa triple with 2:59 remaining cut Iowa State’s lead to 64-54.

After taking its only second-half lead, West Virginia attempted only one field goal on its next six possessions and committed a turnover on five consecutive trips at one point. It was during that stretch when Iowa State (21-6, 10-4) got a bucket from Tre King and then four straight points from Robert Jones as well as two Tamin Lipsey free throws to go in front by seven points with 6:50 to play.

“We got to a point where everything dried up on us and we threw the ball away,” Eilert said. “That was the name of the game.”

Quinn Slazinski made three free throws with 2:12 to play to allow WVU to trail 67-59, but Slazinski’s three with 48 seconds remaining was the only time the Mountaineers got closer than that the rest of the way — and it marked the final scoring play.

Early threes from Kriisa, Battle and Slazinski helped stake West Virginia to an 11-2 lead, but the benefits of that strong start were short-lived and the Cyclones went in front for the first time on Keshon Gilbert’s two free throws that made it 13-12.

Jackson Paveletzke accounted for five straight points with a triple and his three Iowa State to go on top 29-21. Robert Jones’ layup off a WVU turnover made it a double-digit margin for the first time 2:49 before halftime at 37-26.

Turnovers were equally problematic for the Mountaineers in each half, with the visitors totaling 11 in the opening half and 12 over the final 20 minutes.

“It might feel like you have a driving angle, but you get behind one guy and there’s another two right behind them,” Eilert said. “Critical errors and we tried to force it through pressure and force it through a loaded up defense, which killed us. That was probably the key to it, too. We lacked a little poise in that regard.”

West Virginia shot better than Iowa State by making nearly 48 percent of its field-goal attempts to the Cyclones’ 45 percent, but the home team attempted 14 more shots thanks in large part to 10 fewer turnovers.

Johnson made 5-of-7 shots and tied Kriisa for team-high scoring honors with 12 points. It marks the most points Johnson has ever scored in a Big 12 game.

“That’s the type of production I kind of thought we’d get night in and night out,” Eilert said. 

Slazinski followed with 11 and Edwards scored 10 on only five field-goal attempts, though he and Kriisa both had five turnovers.

“Even when we were trying to go high low and eliminate the double team, it was a heavy dig situation and they were all over him,” Eilert said. “He has to keep his composure and slow down. The game has to slow down for everybody and take what the defense gives us.”

Battle scored nine points and made only 2-of-11 shots. In seven conference road games, Battle is averaging nine points and has made 21-of-74 field-goal attempts and 6-of-30 threes.

“He hasn’t played nearly as well on the road as he does at home. Whether that’s a mindset thing, we have to get to the bottom of it,” Eilert said.

Lipsey led all players with 14 points and Curtis Jones added 12. Paveletzke scored nine and a trio of Cyclones — King, Gilbert and Robert Jones — finished with eight apiece.

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Source: WV MetroNews