Mountaineers Edge DePaul in OT
By Steve Stone for MSNsportsNET.com
January 9, 2010
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The 17th-ranked West Virginia University women’s basketball team used a complete team effort on defense to come away with a 64-57 overtime victory against DePaul in front of 3,036 fans on Saturday afternoon at the WVU Coliseum.
It was West Virginia’s defensive pressure that made the difference on a day where not many shots were falling. The Mountaineers (15-1, 3-0) forced 25 turnovers against what is usually a sound DePaul offense, all while committing just 10 fouls throughout the contest.
The important victory extends West Virginia’s winning streak to 13 games, and snaps a three-game losing streak versus the Blue Demons (12-5, 1-2).
“When you have a shooting night like we had and can still win, it says a lot about the character of our team,” WVU coach Mike Carey said. "I thought defense was the key once again. We kept them off the offensive boards, they had seven, we had 21. Those are hustle plays.”
As the game tightened during the closing minutes, it was freshman center Asya Bussie who began to finish around the rim. Down 53-50 with 38 seconds remaining, Bussie took an entry pass on the left side of the paint and reversed for a finish on the right side to put WVU down by just one. After DePaul’s Keisha Hampton missed a jumper with 14 seconds left, the Mountaineers marched down the court as Korinne Campbell was fouled with 1.9 seconds left on an offensive-putback.
The University of Minnesota transfer calmly sank her first free throw before missing the next one to send the game in overtime. After Bussie’s layup put WVU ahead to begin the extra session, Campbell hit arguably the game’s biggest shot with a 3-pointer from the corner to give West Virginia a 58-53 advantage.
“They are well coached and do a great job,” Carey said of DePaul. “Once we got in overtime and got the ball to Asya and when we got a three and went up five we pretty much had a lot of relief.”
From there, West Virginia’s defense held DePaul to just 2 of 7 shooting the rest of the way, giving the Mountaineers their first 3-0 start in Big East play since the 1996-97 season.
DePaul coach Doug Bruno ended his postgame press conference by telling the media that “Morgantown has something special in this year’s team,” a remark that Carey appreciated but is not willing to settle for just yet.
“I think we have to earn that with 14 more games,” Carey said of Bruno’s praise. “I’ve said this in the preseason – these girls are going hard. They practice hard, play hard and the chemistry is terrific. We are deeper than we were last year and everyone knows their role and plays hard. They’ve bought into defense because they know we can get some easy buckets off turnovers.”
Bussie highlighted WVU’s five double-figure scorers with a game-high 16 points and seven rebounds in 35 minutes. Campbell, Liz Repella, Vanessa House and Madina Ali added 10 apiece, while Ali pulled down a team-best nine rebounds.
Junior point guard Sarah Miles chipped in with six points and seven assists, constantly getting her teammates open looks against DePaul’s zone defense. Miles also added three steals and played 42 of the game’s 45 minutes.
DePaul outshot West Virginia from the field, going 22 of 53 (41.5 percent). However, the Blue Demons were unable to take full control after building its largest lead to 10 in the second half because of WVU’s man to man pressure. DePaul also gave WVU several opportunities from the line by committing 20 fouls.
WVU went just 14 of 26 from the charity stripe, while DePaul finished 9 of 10. The Mountaineers also dug themselves a hole by shooting 6 of 28 from 3-point distance, but managed to finish inside in the game’s final moments when it mattered most.
“Our 3-point shooters were 2 for 9, 2 for 9 and 2 for 8,” Carey added. “Liz once again didn’t have any points at halftime. But you can still play defense, rebound and win. You can get on the offensive boards and rebound. We had five people in double figures. This year we’ve got more people who can step up when we struggle, and that’s a big difference also.”
West Virginia limited DePaul from its usual game plan of pushing the ball quickly after missed shots, holding the Blue Demons to just four fast-break points. Nine steals by the Mountaineers helped give them the edge in points off turnovers, 20-13.
Ali led all scorers with 10 points at halftime with the game knotted at 31-31. The Williamsport, Pa., native kept receiving the ball in the middle of DePaul’s zone and scored with her jump shot or by driving it to the basket. Bussie chipped in with seven points, while House came off the bench to hit two key 3-pointers.
West Virginia got off to another sluggish start, facing a 7-0 deficit with 17:14 remaining in the first half. A 3-pointer from DePaul’s Sam Quigley pushed the Blue Demons' lead to 20-13, but the Mountaineers outscored their opponent by an 18-11 margin to end the half.
Ali helped West Virginia’s comeback with consecutive baskets to cut its deficit to 20-19, then House gave the Mountaineers their first lead when she received a pass from guard Akeema Richards off the fast break and drilled an open 3-pointer.
The Mountaineers extended their lead to 31-27, their largest of the half, when Bussie scored on a conventional 3-point play. Bussie drove the middle of the lane, chucked a shot off the backboard, and corralled the rebound for an easy layup and foul.
Quigley let DePaul with 15 points, while Hampton finished with 14. Forward Katherine Harry had a game-high 13 rebounds.
West Virginia returns with its third straight home contest against conference foe Villanova on Tuesday, Jan. 12. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. and will be televised on WVPBS.
GAME NOTES: West Virginia outrebounded DePaul, 47-36 ... the Mountaineers outscored DePaul, 11-4, in overtime ... Sarah Miles has recorded at least seven assists in 12 of her 15 games played ... WVU has won by single digits in its first three conference games, including 4-point victories over St. John's and Pitt ... today's game was the 15th largest crowd in WVU women's basketball history ... WVU and DePaul played an overtime game for the second straight time, with the first being in last year's conference tournament ... WVU won its first overtime game since defeating Florida International, 67-49, on Nov. 22, 2008.
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