MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – The West Virginia University women’s basketball team was defeated by No. 24 DePaul, 77-63, at the Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
The game was designated a Play4Kay Game, and 6,516 fans, the sixth largest crowd all-time, came out in support of both West Virginia and breast cancer awareness.
The Mountaineers (19-7, 9-4 BIG EAST) knew coming into the contest that solid defense along with protecting the ball would be the keys to the game as the Blue Demons (20-7, 8-5 BIG EAST) hold the third-highest scoring average in the league.
West Virginia did both of those things in the first half, holding DePaul to just 24 points while only committing seven turnovers. They also won on the boards, grabbing 24 rebounds in comparison to DePaul’s 14.
But in the second half, the Mountaineers allowed the Blue Demons to increase their shooting percentage from the field to 68.0 percent (17-of-25), while turning the ball over 11 times and losing most of their advantage off the boards.
“We didn’t play hard when we came out those first four minutes,” said head coach Mike Carey. “We let them run layups on us, we didn’t get back on defense, we had too many turnovers and we quit guarding. Offensively, we quit posting hard and we turned it over and didn’t move the ball.
“They shot 31 percent in the first half and 68 percent in the second half,” he continued. “That says it all right there. Too many turnovers, opportunities, we didn’t move the ball and we didn’t post hard. On the other end, we didn’t guard. When that happens, you get beat.”
West Virginia was led by redshirt-sophomore Christal Caldwell
, who scored 16 points to increase her streak of double-figure scoring games to 14.
She was followed by redshirt-junior Ayana Dunning, who earned her third career double-double against DePaul with 12 points and 14 rebounds, and by junior Asya Bussie
, who was just shy of her eighth career double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds.
Overall, the Mountaineers converted 35.4 percent (23-of-65) from the field, 23.8 percent (5-of-21) from 3-point range and 80.0 percent (12-of-15) from the charity line.
They were outshot by the Blue Demons, who ended the game at 48.1 percent (26-of-54) from the field and 35.3 percent (6-of-17) from beyond the arc. DePaul converted just 65.5 percent (19-of-29) from the line.
Defensively, West Virginia ultimately out-rebounded DePaul, 45-31, to continue its streak of out-rebounding all but one league opponent. They also forced nine turnovers, seven of which were steals.
Behind Dunning and Bussie, freshman Averee Fields
grabbed seven rebounds for the Mountaineers.
Four players posted double-figure scoring numbers for DePaul, as freshman guard Brittany Hrynko scored 21 points, junior guard Anna Martin scored 19 points, and sophomore forward Jasmine Penny and junior forward Katherine Harry scored 16 and 15 points, respectively.
“Give DePaul credit,” Carey said. “They took it to us in the second half. They were more aggressive, they played harder and they hit some nice shots.”
The Mountaineers return to action on Tuesday, Feb. 21, as they travel to St. John’s to take on the Red Storm in a 7 p.m. tip.
Live audio and stats of Tuesday’s game will be provided by MSNsportsNET.com. The game will also be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network.