By Steve Stone for MSNsportsNET.com
January 30, 2010
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Redshirt junior Vanessa House produced a career-high 17 points off the bench to lead the 11th-ranked West Virginia University women’s basketball team to a hard-fought 72-66 victory over Louisville on Saturday evening at the WVU Coliseum.
House’s importance tonight was measured in 3’s – making 4 of 7 attempts from long distance to provide a sorely-needed spark. Her third 3-point field goal with 9:53 left gave West Virginia a two-possession lead at 53-47, and she followed with a momentum-sustaining trey from the corner to push WVU to a 63-56 lead.
The Fresno, Calif., native’s four triples also tie her career high, which she set at Pitt on Jan. 17 with a 4 of 5 3-point shooting performance.
“It was key because we were in foul trouble,” WVU coach Mike Carey said of House’s performance. “Sarah (Miles) picked up her second one and then picked up her third on a busted play out of bounds. Vanessa came in and played point for us when Sarah was in foul trouble. Akeema (Richards) came in and played well for a spell, but that’s what we need. We need a bench.”
With the victory, the Mountaineers (20-2, 7-1) hit the 20-win mark the fastest in school history. WVU also extended its home win streak dating back to last season to 16 games, and has knocked off the Cardinals (11-10, 3-5) in all five regular-season meetings between both teams.
The Mountaineer win also came in front of the seventh-largest crowd in school history at 3,788.
“It was great,” Carey said of tonight’s crowd. “It really helped us in the second half, especially when we were behind. Great crowd and great atmosphere. It really helps. Our girls deserve that. We’re 20-2 and we deserve that crowd.”
Junior point guard Sarah Miles also added 17 points for WVU on 5 of 11 shooting. The San Antonio native added six rebounds and four assists in 27 minutes. Junior guard Liz Repella had another good shooting performance, making 6 of 10 shots for 15 points.
West Virginia outscored Louisville, 39-29, in the second half after trailing by four at halftime. WVU shot 50 percent in the second half and 45.3 percent overall from the field, while Louisville finished the contest shooting 42 percent.
“I thought our girls showed a lot of heart in the second half,” Carey added. “We got in some foul trouble, but I thought Akeema came off the bench and gave us good minutes, and Vanessa once again gave us good minutes off the bench. I give Louisville a lot of credit, they played hard and I knew they would.”
Louisville outscored WVU, 32-22, in points in the paint. WVU’s offensive game plan revolved around finding freshmen center Asya Bussie, who finished with eight points and seven rebounds while attempting to seal her defender for entry passes all night. When nothing was open inside, the backcourt went to work by accounting for 51 of the team’s 72 points.
WVU’s 72 points mark its highest offensive output in conference play this season, eclipsing its 69 points at Pitt.
Louisville forward Monique Reid scored a career-high 29 points on 9 of 19 shooting, including 11 of 11 from the free throw line. Shooting guard Becky Burke added 17 as the Cardinals endured several small runs against them but found ways to get back into the game.
“They were running us a little bit. That shouldn’t happen,” Carey mentioned. “We can say we’re tired or whatever, but they’re tired too. We have to get ready for Connecticut on Tuesday, so we don’t have time to be tired.”
With 15:46 remaining, Madina Ali’s layup gave West Virginia a 48-41 lead. Louisville came back with a 6-0 run that was capped by two free throws from Reid. Following House’s third 3-pointer to put WVU up by six, Miles added an insurance basket with a layup to make it 55-47 with 9:33 left.
Once again, Louisville fought back with another 6-0 run on two layups and a jumper by Burke to cut the Cardinal deficit to 55-53. Later, Reid’s jumper with three minutes remaining pulled Louisville to within five at 65-60, but House responded with a running jumper in the lane at the 1:36 mark to put WVU ahead at 67-61. Reid’s missed jumper on the next possession expended more time off the clock and helped give WVU get the win.
The Mountaineers trailed at halftime for the first time since being down 24-21 against Pitt on Jan. 5. Louisville took a close 37-33 lead heading into the break courtesy of a 19-6 run that put the Cardinals ahead 22-19 with 7:12 left in the first half.
It looked as though WVU would pull away after taking a 13-4 advantage on a fastbreak layup from Ali, who took a well-placed pass from House. Following the Cardinals’ run, House responded with a game-tying 3-pointer from the right wing, then hit another with 4:36 to put WVU back on top, 27-26.
Following a layup by Miles to make it 29-26, Louisville countered with a layup as the teams began trading baskets. Burke then came off a screen to hit a 3-pointer from the left side, and Reid’s 3-point play underneath the basket gave the Cardinals a six-point advantage.
Repella led the Mountaineers with nine points at halftime, followed by Miles’ eight. Both players got in early foul trouble as WVU committed five fouls in the first 3 ½ minutes of action.
WVU returns to the floor on Tuesday, Feb. 2, at top-ranked Connecticut in Hartford, Conn. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and will be aired on West Virginia PBS.
GAME NOTES: WVU scored 18 points off 19 Louisville turnovers ... Bussie talled four blocks on the evening ... WVU is 23-6 in home Big East contests dating back to 2006-07 ... Carey is 98-25 all-time at the WVU Coliseum ... WVU has never gotten off to a 7-1 start in Big East play ... Repella is now 29 points shy of 1,000 for her career.
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