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Pittsnogle leads WVU to second straight Sweet 16

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Jerry West's teams have company in
the West Virginia record book.

Kevin Pittsnogle scored 14 points to lead the sixth-seeded
Mountaineers to a 67-54 victory over 14th-seeded Northwestern State
in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday.

West Virginia has won two games in consecutive NCAAs for the
first time since the famed West, whose silhouette graces the NBA's
logo, led it to the title game in 1959 and a regional semifinal the
next year.

"I just hope we end up being one of the great and most popular
teams in West Virginia history like they were," said Mike Gansey,
who had 11 points and 12 rebounds.

The Mountaineers led by as many as 25 in the second half, but
had to hold off a late rally as the Demons pulled to 57-49 with
4:14 left.

"You knew the second half was going to be a root canal,"
Mountaineers coach John Beilein said. "They went after us with
everything they had with their waves, and we got worn down, but we
were still standing at the end."

West Virginia (22-10) will play Texas on Thursday in an Atlanta
Regional semifinal. The Longhorns beat West Virginia 76-75 on Nov.
21 at a tournament in Kansas City, Mo.

Clifton Lee and Keenan Jones each scored 11 for the Demons
(26-8), the lowest-seeded team to win in the first round.

The Southland Conference champions had a chance to become the
third 14th-seeded team to reach the round of 16 and first since
Chattanooga in 1997. The pride of Natchitoches, La., also could've
been the first from their conference to win two NCAA Tournament
games since 1985, when Karl Malone helped Louisiana Tech pull off
the feat.

The Demons weren't able to complete a remarkable turnaround as
they did Friday, but got West Virginia's attention.

Northwestern State overcame a 17-point deficit in the final 8½
minutes against third-seeded Iowa and won on Jermaine Wallace's
fadeaway 3-pointer with a split second left for its seventh
double-digit comeback this season.

"The mood is a little different today -- you go from the top of
the world to the bottom of the trash barrel," Demons coach Mike
McConathy said. "The turnovers were pretty much the game."

West Virginia put Northwestern State, which had 24 turnovers, in
a hole it couldn't get out of.

The Mountaineers went on a 16-3 run early in the game to take an
11-point lead thanks to a mix of their 1-3-1 zone and man-to-man
defense, crisp passing and jumpers West would've been proud of.

West Virginia led 41-19 at halftime -- scoring 19 points off 17
turnovers -- shooting 54 percent.

"We played a brilliant first half," Beilein said.

The Mountaineers seemed to stunt any comeback chances for the
Demons with steady play early in the second half, taking a 48-23
lead.

Then, Northwestern State started outhustling a team that played
as if the game was over.

"We don't play very well with big leads -- we don't stay as
aggressive," Gansey said.

The Demons outscored West Virginia 26-9 to pull within eight,
but couldn't get closer.

Northwestern State set a school record for wins, including
victories over Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and Pac-10 schools.

"We fell short, but no one expected us to be here," forward
Jermaine Spencer said. "No one, no loss, can take away what we
did.

"We've put Northwestern State on the map."

The Mountaineers held onto their lead despite going nearly 13
minutes without a field goal, helped by free throws. West Virginia
was 24-of-33 at the line while the Demons were 6-of-11.

"They were going to put us on the line and make us score that
way," Beilein said.

Frank Young and J.D. Collins had 10 points apiece for the
Mountaineers. Pittsnogle led them in scoring, but was just 3-of-14
from the field.

"I had a lot of open looks, I just didn't knock them down," he
said.

West Virginia beat Southern Illinois 64-46 and ended up with a
comfortable margin against the Demons, starting the tournament in
stark contrast to its previous run. All four of the Mountaineers'
tourney games last year were close, including an overtime loss to
Louisville that kept them from the Final Four.

The Mountaineers found their groove in suburban Motown after
slumping into the NCAA Tournament with five losses in seven games,
including a setback against Pittsburgh in their first Big East
tournament game.

"A lot of teams that have won their conference tournaments have
lost in the first two rounds," Gansey said. "It was unfortunate
to lose, but it got us hungry again."