Oct. 28—MORGANTOWN — The WVU players were taken aback by the stats and moments that unfolded during the charity exhibition between the Mountaineers and George Mason. The game ended with a score of 85-78, but as WVU head coach Josh Eilert emphasized, there are more important things than numbers.
This sentiment was exemplified in the second half when WVU forward Akok Akok collapsed while attempting to return to the Mountaineers bench during a timeout.
“I never expected to encounter a situation like this,” said Eilert. “It reminds us that this is just a basketball game, but it involves human lives.”
Akok, a 6-foot-10 forward who recently transferred from Georgetown, fell to the ground with 15:56 remaining in the second half. He struggled to regain his footing and eventually collapsed on his back.
WVU trainers and medical personnel quickly rushed to his aid.
Initially, Akok showed limited movement before slowly moving his arms and legs. He received an IV on the court before being placed on a stretcher and hurried out of the arena.
Akok was admitted to Ruby Memorial Hospital. Eilert confirmed that the forward was stable and responsive, but would be kept overnight for further testing.
“He texted us after the game,” revealed WVU forward Quinn Slazinski, who contributed 21 points and three 3-pointers off the bench. “He congratulated us on the good game and win. He was able to move around.”
BOX SCORE WVU, playing in front of former head coach Bob Huggins, staged a comeback from a 43-33 deficit late in the first half to secure the victory.
Several factors contributed to their success. WVU forward Jesse Edwards faced early foul trouble and failed to secure a rebound in the first half, while Kerr Kriisa also struggled without an assist during that time.
In the meantime, the Patriots rarely missed a shot or free throw, avoided turnovers, and held their own on the boards.
“Credit to George Mason,” acknowledged Eilert. “They came prepared and ready to fight. It was a tough battle, and they challenged us defensively.”
WVU’s improved performance in the second half was due to Edwards and Kriisa returning to form, and the contributions of Slazinski and freshman Ofri Naveh.
Edwards, a transfer from Syracuse, finished the game with 21 points and seven rebounds.
In the final three minutes, Edwards scored two 3-point plays and extended WVU’s slim 74-71 lead to an 80-71 advantage with 2:08 remaining.
Kriisa ended the game with 11 points, while Naveh’s impressive drive and dunk tied the game at 59 with 10:29 left on the clock.
Naveh, a freshman from Israel, contributed nine points overall.
Josiah Harris came close to achieving a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds.
“You can say whatever you want about the game, but I am extremely proud of my team,” expressed Slazinski. “We came together, and I love every single person on this team. We have some things to work on, but moments like this bring us closer.”
Laura Davis covers the world of basketball with precision. Her articles explore NBA and college basketball, offering game analysis, player profiles, and highlights. Laura’s passion for hoops is evident in her comprehensive basketball coverage.