HARTFORD, Conn. – For the fifth time this season, the West Virginia University women’s basketball team defeated a ranked opponent, outlasting No. 12 Georgetown, 39-32, in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Tournament.
With the win, the Mountaineers now advance to the semifinals for the fifth time in program history.
The story of the game was once again defense as the Mountaineers (23-8) completely shut down Georgetown’s offense, only allowing them to shoot 14.7 percent (10-of-68) from the field and 18.8 percent (3-of-16) from 3-point range.
In doing that, West Virginia also prevented BIG EAST leading scorer Sugar Rodgers from reaching her scoring average of 19.1 points per game, holding her to just 14 points on 5-of-20 shooting in 33 minutes of play. No other Georgetown player scored more than five points.
“The thing with Sugar (Rodgers) is she gets a lot of her threes on transition, and Jess Harlee
did an excellent job,” said head coach Mike Carey. “That's one thing we kept working on. Go find Sugar Rodgers. I don't care if you have somebody else stop the ball, go find Rodgers and don't let her have the three on transition. So I thought she (Jess Harlee
) stayed focused for 40 minutes defensively.”
The Mountaineers also battled hard on the boards, ending the game tied with the Hoyas (22-8), at 51 rebounds each. Junior Asya Bussie
pulled down a career-high 13 rebounds for West Virginia, while redshirt-junior Ayana Dunning followed with seven.
As a result of this stifling defense, Georgetown tied the record for fewest points scored in a BIG EAST Tournament game, which was also set by Villanova against Rutgers on March 5, 2000.
Despite its solid defensive play, however, West Virginia also struggled to get things going offensively shooting 25.0 percent (13-of-52) from the field and 23.5 percent (4-of-17) from 3-point range.
“Our guards weren't attacking,” Carey said. “We were hesitant on our shots. We were scared to miss, and we can't play that way. We can only play one way.”
Sophomore Taylor Palmer
paced West Virginia in scoring, with 11 points in just 15 minutes of play including three-straight treys starting at the 9:47 mark in the second half to give the Mountaineers a 34-24 lead as the clock wound down.
Palmer was followed by Bussie, who scored her 1,000th career point during the first half of the game en route to scoring a total of nine points. She now holds 1,006 career points.
Freshman Akilah Bethel rounded out the top three scorers, posting seven points for the Mountaineers in the win.
The Mountaineers will next face No. 3 Notre Dame at the XL Center on Monday night at 6 p.m. for a chance to advance to the Championship game.
The last time the teams met, West Virginia stunned then-No. 2 Notre Dame, 65-63, at the Purcell Pavilion in South Bend, Ind., snapping the Fighting Irish's 21-game win streak.
Monday’s game will be broadcast live on ESPNU, and live audio and stats along with a full recap will also be provided by MSNsportsNET.com.