By Steve Stone for MSNsportsNET.com
November 27, 2009
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Liz Repella blocked a game-tying 3-point attempt at the end of regulation to give the West Virginia University women’s basketball team a 69-66 victory over Iowa in the semifinals of the Nugget Classic on Friday evening at the Lawlor Events Center in Reno, Nev.
“It’s definitely a good win for us,” Repella said. “Iowa comes from a great conference and after the Ohio State loss we wanted to come out and show that we could play well.”
The Mountaineers (4-1) won in come-from-behind fashion, trailing by as many as nine points in the second half before outscoring the Hawkeyes (4-2) 35-23 during the final 16:46. Vanessa House’s layup with 8:45 left tied the game at 54-54, and WVU took the lead on its next possession when Sarah Miles stole the ball from Theairra Taylor and scored on a fastbreak layup.
Taylor, however, responded with a 3-pointer to give Iowa a 57-56 lead, but the Mountaineers came back with a layup by Asya Bussie and two free throws by Korinne Campbell. Once again, Iowa tied the game with a 3-pointer by Kelly Krei, but House scored the go-ahead basket on a fast break and WVU did not look back from there as it rode its slim lead to victory.
West Virginia had four double-figure scorers, including 15 points apiece from Bussie and Campbell. Repella added 14 points on 5 of 12 shooting, and Miles had 10 points and three assists in 35 minutes.
WVU’s free-throw shooting was critical in its victory, going 19 of 22 from the charity stripe. After Iowa was nearly flawless on offense in the first half, the Hawkeyes were held to 9 of 24 shooting in the second half. Iowa also went to the free throw line only half as much as WVU, converting on 7 of 11 attempts.
The Mountaineers came up with 14 steals, their second-highest total of the season. They also forced 22 turnovers by the Hawkeyes, and outrebounded them 36-33, including a 15-9 edge on the offensive glass.
“Our play on the offensive glass was critical for us,” Repella added. “Korinne Campbell had a lot of offensive rebounds tonight and really used her athleticism well. We can’t make every shot from the floor and having rebounders like her helps our team a lot.”
An up-and-down first half for West Virginia ended with the Mountaineers trailing 36-30. West Virginia got off to a slow start before heating up toward the end of the half. Iowa’s Gabby Machado drove in for a layup to help give the Hawkeyes a fast 12-4 advantage, and later extended its lead to 21-10 on a jumper from Jaime Printy with 11:17 remaining.
With 2:22 remaining, WVU cut the deficit to 36-28 on a jumper by Repella, and freshman Akeema Richards scored the game’s final basket before halftime on a fastbreak layup with 1:21 left.
Iowa’s hot shooting helped give it the first-half lead, making 55.2 percent from the floor and 4 of 9 from 3-point range. WVU was just 10 of 30 from the field, but made 9 of 10 free throws and forced 11 turnovers to keep the game tight.
The Hawkeyes were led by 17 points from Printy, while Krei and Kamille Wahlin totaled 16 apiece.
WVU returns with the championship game on Saturday evening against tournament host Nevada at 10 p.m. ET.