LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — West Virginia coach Bob Huggins didn’t mince any words about his team’s performance.
Jevon Carter had 20 points, Sagaba Konate added 14, and No. 23 West Virginia survived an upset bid by winless Marist, beating the Red Foxes 84-78 in the opening round Thursday night at the Advocare Invitational.
“Our effort (stunk)” Huggins said. “To play the way we play, you have to play with great effort.”
Carter hit a key trey that put West Virginia ahead 70-67 with 5 1/2 minutes left after Marist had pulled even on Brian Parker’s basket.
The Mountaineers (4-1), who shot 32 percent over the game’s first 28 minutes, finished at 35 percent.
Marist (0-4) got 19 points from David Knudsen and 14 more by Parker.
“I’m a very proud coach,” Marist coach Mike Maker said. “That’s the most passion our team and our program has shown in my tenure.”
Knudsen hit a pair of 3s that got Marist with 65-62 with 7 minutes to play.
West Virginia, winner of four in a row after a season-opening 88-65 loss to Texas A@M in Germany, did have success in the turnover battle by turning 24 Marist miscues into 26 points. Marist got 11 points off 11 West Virginia turnovers.
The Mountaineers shot just 33 percent (13 of 39), including 15 percent (3 for 20) from 3-point range in a sluggish first half that saw West Virginia take a 39-26 lead.
West Virginia went 8 for 38 (21 percent) from behind the arc overall.
West Virginia will likely need to win the invitational to stay in the Top-25 and the championship could help the Mountaineers move up slightly in the rankings.
West Virginia: Over the last 15 years are 137-33 against non-conference opponents. The Mountaineers beat Marist 87-44 in the only previous meetings between the teams in 2012.
Marist: The other losses this season came against Lehigh (84-76, OT), UMass-Lowell (76-73) and Army (94-73).
West Virginia back-up guard James Bolden missed several minutes late in the first half after landing awkwardly on his leg. When he returned, the sophomore hit a 3 on the Mountaineers’ next possession and finished with eight points.
MAKING SHOTS COUNT
Marist went 26 for 47 (55 percent) from the floor, while West Virginia made 26 of 74.
West Virginia: Has a semifinal match up Friday night with Central Florida.
Marist: Faces Nebraska in a consolation game Friday night.