Miles To Go
By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
February 16, 2010
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Sarah Miles scored 16 points and West Virginia was able to overcome a second-half scoreless drought to knock off Rutgers 55-51 Tuesday night at the WVU Coliseum.
“We did enough to win but we’re not going to be able to continue to do that,” said West Virginia coach Mike Carey. “Somebody is going to beat us when we play like that.”
The ninth-rated Mountaineers led by 13 points, 47-34, with 9:08 remaining in the game before they went ice cold from the field. WVU also had difficulty handling Rutgers’ full-court pressure.
“It seems like sometimes when we get the ball we wait on the trap,” said Carey. “When we reverse the ball and it’s one-on-one we beat it.”
West Virginia made one field goal over the remaining 7:42 of the game and had to convert critical free throws down the stretch to hold off the Scarlet Knights, winners of three straight heading into tonight’s game.
With seven minutes to go Brittany Ray got things going for Rutgers (15-11, 7-5) with 3 from the wing to cut West Virginia’s lead to seven, 50-43, and then layups by Chelsey Lee, Myia McCurdy and Lee again got Rutgers to within one, 50-49 with 4:28 remaining.
“I stayed in the zone a little too long and we started standing around a little bit,” said Carey. “When we stand around on defense we stand around on offense. We play well when we get up and down the floor.”
Trailing by one, 52-51, following another Lee basket, Rutgers had two chances to take the lead. Nikki Speed missed a jumper with 13 seconds left and Myia McCurdy’s stick-back chance was blocked by Aysa Bussie. Madina Ali was able to pull down the rebound and get the ball to Sarah Miles, where she was fouled by Ray with 10 seconds left.
Miles only made one of two from the line, giving Rutgers a chance to tie the game with a two or win it with a 3. But Rutgers couldn’t get a good look at the basket and Miles was able to come up with Khadijah Rushdan’s turnover. She was fouled with 0.7 seconds left and was able to hit both free throws to ice the game for West Virginia.
“We didn’t stick to the script,” said Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer. “If we worked as hard in the beginning as we did in the last seven minutes this could have been a different game. And I don’t know why we didn’t because West Virginia is a very fine team.”
In the first half, offense for both teams was like panning for gold. West Virginia shot 28.1% on 9 of 32 from the floor while Rutgers also could only manage nine first-half field goals. Then West Virginia used a 13-0 run to begin the second half to take a double-digit lead.
Campbell scored 14 points and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds while Ali chipped in with 12 points and nine boards.
“I thought Korinne Campbell got active on the boards and I thought Madina Ali was active,” said Carey.
Leading scorer Liz Repella was held to just 8 points, six below her season average.
Ray scored 16 and Lee added 14 points and 10 rebounds for Rutgers. Most of Lee’s points came in the second half on pick and rolls to the basket for easy layups.
“We were showing big with our big and she would roll and at times we got some turnovers and other times our catch person on the weakside didn’t catch her and she was able to get some easy ones in there,” Carey explained. “We practiced that for three days straight and when our catch person got over there we were in great shape. When she didn’t come in there we struggled.”
The victory was West Virginia’s 18th straight at the Coliseum dating back to last year. It is the longest home winning streak in school history.
The Mountaineers got a big surprise after the game when they found out St. John’s upset third-ranked Notre Dame 76-71 in Jamaica, N.Y., meaning West Virginia and Notre Dame are now tied for second place in the league standings behind first-place Connecticut.
Now WVU turns its attention to South Florida.
“We have played two physical teams back to back right here,” said Carey. “It’s good that they’re going to get a break. We’re off tomorrow and then we’ll get ready for South Florida.”
West Virginia will face the Bulls in a 4:30 p.m. contest on Saturday. That game will be televised in Florida on Brighthouse TV.
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