CHICAGO – The eighth-ranked West Virginia women’s basketball team lost its second-straight game to No. 12 DePaul, 78-55, at McGrath Arena on Sunday afternoon.
The Mountaineers (19-3, 5-3 BIG EAST) knew going into the game that the key to defeating DePaul would be winning the rebound and turnover battle, while using strong defense to shut down the Blue Demons’ (21-2, 8-0 BIG EAST) accuracy from beyond the arc. The Mountaineers also knew at the start of the season that an improved scoring effort over previous performances would be needed when headed into BIG EAST Conference play.
Despite this knowledge, the Mountaineers lost the rebound battle, 32-28, while committing 24 turnovers. In addition, the Blue Demons shot 50 percent (32-of-64) from field goal range and 69.2 percent (9-of-13) from the free throw line to build a lead from which West Virginia would be unable to recover.
“Give DePaul all the credit,” said coach Mike Carey. “They went after it; they played hard and were hungrier. We are out of sync and just not playing well right now.”
Offensively, the Mountaineers were unable to find their rhythm, putting up only 35 points in the first half. Leading scorer Liz Repella was held to zero first half points by DePaul’s defense, her game total of nine points all coming during the second half. Madina Ali was held to only six points.
“We didn’t execute the whole game,” Carey said. “We have Madina Ali, who can’t practice with a stress fracture. She’s real tentative and it’s hurting us right now.”
led the Mountaineer scoring efforts, with 13 points on 3-of-4 shooting from the field and 7-of-10 shooting from the charity stripe. Sarah Miles had 11 points and two rebounds, including a crucial 3-point shot at the buzzer before going into halftime. Korinne Campbell joined Repella in rounding out the top four in scoring, adding nine points.
In contrast, the Blue Demons had no trouble finding their own offensive rhythm, with five players reaching double-digit scoring efforts. DePaul was led by forward Keisha Hampton, who recorded 16 points in 26 minutes of play. She was followed by forwards Felicia Chester and Taylor Pikes, who each had 15 points, and guard Anna Martin who put up 12. Guard Sam Quigley rounded out the top five with 11 points on the night.
“DePaul is very good and they compete with everybody,” said Carey. “There are a lot of good teams in the BIG EAST. DePaul is well coached, does a great job and plays hard.”
The Blue Demons built their lead early, starting the first half with an 18-2 scoring run. While the Mountaineers would eventually be able to cut the lead to 34-25 at the half using an 11-2 scoring run of their own, the Blue Demons returned to the court continuing to dominate in the paint, outscoring West Virginia 44-26, while scoring 34 points off of Mountaineer turnovers.
While West Virginia shot 50 percent (22-44) from the field, it wasn’t enough to overcome a Blue Demon addition of 16 second chance points and 12 fast break points.
The loss was the first time WVU has experienced two-straight losses in the last 64 games as the last time it lost two straight was at Georgetown on Feb. 18, 2009.
“Give them all the credit,” Carey said. “They kicked our butt. We deserved to get our butt kicked and we got our butt kicked.”
West Virginia returns to action on Tuesday night, playing host to Providence in the first of three home games. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m., with the game airing live on WVPBS. The contest will also be streamed live on MSNsportsNET.com, with live stats also being provided.