PROVIDENCE, R.I. - This was the kind of day that Truck Bryant could make light of his propensity to shoot the basketball at any time and under any circumstances.
Why? Well, because he was making as many as he was missing.
Take the final seconds of overtime at the Dunkin Donuts Center against Providence Sunday afternoon, for example. The clock is winding down to under 10 and then under five. Bryant has the ball in a tie game and he hasn't given it up since taking the inbounds pass. He's at the top of the key with Deniz Kilicli setting a screen.
"He kept saying, 'Shoot it, shoot it, shoot it,' ' Bryant said of Kilicli. "Well, you know me. I was going to shoot it anyway. He didn't have to tell me.''
Indeed, no one ever has to tell Bryant to shoot the basketball.
This time the shot went in, as did most of the important ones he took during 45 non-stop minutes Sunday. And as a result not only of his game-winning 3-pointer but his 32 points overall, West Virginia is no longer mired in a losing streak after an 87-84 win over Providence.
How big was the win? Well, Bob Huggins insisted afterward that there are still plenty of opportunities to win games with seven left before the Big East tournament. But losing this one, to the league's last-place team and extending a losing streak to four, that would have been hard to overcome.
"It was this close,'' Bryant said, holding his fingers a fraction of an inch apart in describing how close the Mountaineers' season came to all but ending with another consecutive loss. "But at the end of the day, we got a win that we needed.''
Indeed, the victory snapped a frustrating three-game losing streak for the Mountaineers (16-8, 6-5 Big East), who nonetheless remain in eighth place in the league. But eighth place with seven games to play is certainly not a hole that can't be escaped. West Virginia is just a half-game out of fifth and two games out of second.
On the other hand, it is also two games out of 10th and three above 14th.