MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 7 team in the nation and No. 2 seed West Virginia closed the game on a 11-5 run to defeat the No. 7 seed DePaul, 47-41, in quarterfinal action of the 2010 Big East Women’s Basketball Championship at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., on Sunday evening.
“We were just able to score enough,” coach Mike Carey said. “I thought the last three minutes we put a little pressure on them and they turned it over in big situations and that really gave us other opportunities at the foul line. If we hit our foul shots at the end, it wouldn't have been as close as it was. We like to make it interesting.”
Junior Liz Repella led all scorers with 16 points on 4-of-7 shooting from 3. Junior Sarah Miles and freshman Asya Bussie each contributed nine points in the win, while each also played stellar defense.
Junior Korrine Campbell led West Virginia on the boards with eight rebounds and also had three steals and two blocks, while Miles, the league's defensive play of the year, had five assists and three steals.
After coming out in the second half up by nine points, West Virginia went on a cold spell and DePaul was able to tie the game at 29-29 with 12:08 remaining on freshman Katherine Harry's fast-break layup. Miles hit a layup for West Virginia for only their second field goal in the second half at the 9:44 mark to put West Virginia back up two. However, two made free throws from freshman Keisha Hampton tied the game at 31-31 with 8:44 left. DePaul was never able to take the lead after a jumper by Madina Ali to put West Virginia up 33-31.
Repella finished the game 5-of-14 after missing her first five field goal attempts in the second half.
“I wasn't really noticing getting tired,” Repella said. “It was maybe just a matter of squaring up, getting lower and taking my shot. I knew I was going to miss some, so I just tried to stay in my shot.”
Three of Repella's four 3-pointers came in the first half. Her fourth however, may have come at the most crucial point of the game, putting West Virginia up five with 7:42 remaining.
“I tell Liz all of the time that if she doesn't take that shot, I'll take her out,” Carey said. “I don't care if she goes 0-for-8, she's our 3-point shooter and she needs to shoot. She has the green light and when she doesn't shoot, that's when I get mad at her.”
The Mountaineers only shot 32.1 percent in the game, but were able to hold DePaul to 29.5 percent, including 19 percent in the first half.
“My philosophy has been you always win with defense, shot selection and rebounding,” Carey said. “This team particularly has really bought into our defense concept and really likes to play defense. Defense is just a matter of heart and wanting to play it and wanting to play it a bit more than the other team.”
West Virginia was also able to hold DePaul star junior Sam Quigley to 1-of-10 shooting and forced Quigley into a game-high 10 turnovers. Quigley finished the game with 10 points with her only field goal coming with 1:11 left in the game. Hampton led DePaul with 11 points and nine rebounds.
“We tried to keep the ball out of Quigley's hands because she is a great point guard,” Miles said. The idea was to try to get someone else to bring it up, so we tried to face guard her as much as possible to keep the ball out of her hands.”
West Virginia went into the locker room at halftime with a comfortable 26-17 thanks in part to 11 points from Repella.
After a Jennifer Juergens jumper at the 5:58 mark to bring the score to 15-13 in favor of WVU, the Mountaineers went on a 11-4 run to close out the remainder of the half with two 3's from Repella and three points from Campbell.
With the win, WVU set a new record for wins in a season with 27, breaking the previous record of 26 set by the 1991-92 team. The game was also the second-lowest scoring game in tournament history and DePaul's 41 points were the second fewest scored by a WVU opponent this season. The Mountaineers held Seton Hall to 31 points earlier in the year.
West Virginia will now face either the No. 3 seed Georgetown or No. 7 seed Rutgers in the second semifinal game tomorrow night at 8 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPNU. This will be the fourth time in the last seven years that West Virginia has made it to the semifinals.
No. 1 seed Connecticut will play No. 5 seed Notre Dame in the first semifinal tomorrow night at 6 p.m., also on ESPNU.