CONWAY, S.C. -- Esa Ahmad had 16 points on Thursday night and Sagaba Konate added 14 with eight rebounds and four blocks to help West Virginia beat Monmouth 71-53 in the opening round of the Myrtle Beach Invitational.
The Mountaineers (1-1) will play Western Kentucky in the semifinals Friday.
Konate completed a 3-point play to spark a 13-4 run over the final six minutes of the first half that gave West Virginia a five-point lead at the break. Mustapha Traore made a layup and his dunk 28 seconds later trimmed Monmouth's deficit to 41-39 with 15 minutes to play but the Mountaineers scored the next nine points to spark a 25-6 run that pushed their lead to 66-45 with less than two minutes remaining. The Hawks committed six turnovers and shot just 1 of 12 from the field during that span.
Deion Hammond led Monmouth (0-4) with 10 points. The Hawks are off to their worst start since losing their first eight games of the 2011-12 season.