Said Rukavina, "What I like is that after Charleston took the lead, we fought back and ended up winning. We had some adversity, and we got through it for the first time this year.''
UC, it seems, is still feeling the remnants of its late-January skid in which it lost three of four games in a 10-day stretch. The skid followed a 101-96 victory on Jan. 14 over unbeaten West Liberty, the No. 1-ranked team in Division II at the time.
Since that victory, UC has lost four of seven and, with an 11-6 WVC record and a 15-6 overall mark, is in danger of slipping out of contention for an NCAA at-large bid.
"That was an NCAA tournament game for us,'' said Downey. "It just killed us. It's going to be tough to be an at-large team. Maybe if we win out, but we've got to go to Wheeling Jesuit and West Lib. And we can't win at home right now.''
UC plays at West Liberty on Monday and visits Wheeling Jesuit Feb. 21.
Pitt Johnstown senior guard Nick Novak, who entered the game with a WVC-leading 21.8 scoring average, hit nine of his first 10 shots and finished with 28 points on 11-of-17 shooting. Guard Jordan Miller added 23 points, hitting 5-of-10 3-point tries, and Bill Luther and Ian Vescovi added 10 points each. The Mountain Cats had just nine turnovers; UC committed 15.
Evan Faulkner and Terrell Lipkins led UC with 14 points each, Washington came off the bench to contribute 13 and Xavier Humphrey had 11.
Reach Mike Whiteford at mikewhitef...@wvgazette.com.