BUFFALO, N.Y. — Looking for the run that never came, Missouri came up short in its quest for a second-straight Sweet 16 appearance.
"We just ran out of time," coach Mike Anderson said. "I don't think these guys lost. I think they just ran out of time."
Time indeed ran out for the Tigers on Sunday at HSBC Arena, their season coming to an end with a 68-59 defeat to West Virginia in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
"I don't think anybody imposed their will fully," senior guard J.T. Tiller said. "I think it was in spurts."
Missouri (23-11) hung around with the Mountaineers for the majority of the game, always staying closely in their rearview mirror.
But a long day in regards to scoring for Missouri meant it could not come up with the extra push to get ahead. The Tigers shot 32.8 percent from the field, including 28.6 percent in the second half when West Virginia finally pulled away in the last minute.
"It's going to be tough to win when you've got guys shooting 2-for-9, 3-for-8, another 2-for-9," senior forward Keith Ramsey said. "It's tough. It's frustrating. If those shots would have fell, we'd probably be talking about us winning."
With the win, No. 2-seeded West Virginia advances to Syracuse, N.Y., for a date with 11th-seeded Washington later this week.
Against Missouri, senior guard Da'Sean Butler spearheaded the Mountaineer attack. Exploding for a game-high 28 points, Butler carried West Virginia in the first half by scoring 19 points while West Virginia shot 32.1 percent from the field. Butler's performance had Missouri playing catch-up most of the half.
After halftime, the Mountaineers improved to 52.6 percent from the floor, and Butler chipped in nine more points as his teammates found their accuracy.
"He's a good player," Tiller said. "Night in and night out, you're going to be challenged, and he stepped up to the plate. He knew we were going to try to really see what he was going to do. He put his stamp on the game."
Butler was all over West Virginia's 8-0 run to start the game, hitting two 3-pointers within the first two minutes. Missouri recovered to pull within 15-14 at the 12:04 mark and stayed within sniffing distance for the next 10 minutes.
With just more than three minutes in the half, sophomore forward Kim English nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game at 25. But Butler once again took hold of the contest, getting to the free-throw line and hitting five baskets from the charity stripe to give West Virginia a 30-25 halftime lead.
Missouri kept the pressure on in the second half, with two free throws from Tiller pulling the Tigers within four at 3:04. The stage was set for a Tiger charge, but Missouri could never put one together. Tiller missed a layup that would put Missouri within two points, and the Tigers never got closer.
"I think we came with the right mindset, defensively getting after it, putting ourselves in a position to have a chance to win," Anderson said. "You got to put the ball in the hole, and we had opportunities to do that."