|WVU senior guard Christal Caldwell fights for a loose ball in the Mountaineers' 76-61 win over Albany on Sunday evening at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
|WVU Photo Graphic Services/M.G. Ellis photo
BATON ROUGE, La. - The No. 2-seeded West Virginia women’s basketball team advances to the NCAA Second Round with a 76-61 defeat of 15th-seeded Albany (NY), Sunday, March 23 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, La.
The Mountaineers (30-4) will face No. 7-seeded LSU in second-round action at 9:30 p.m. ET, on Tuesday, March 25. The win was West Virginia’s 30th of the season, marking the most wins in a single season in program history.
The Great Danes (28-5) cut what once was a 22-point deficit to only five points, 56-51, with 6:58 remaining, but the Mountaineers outscored the Great Danes, 20-10, to the final horn.
Each team made 23 field goals, but the Mountaineers had five 3-pointers to UAlbany’s one trey. WVU forced 16 UAlbany turnovers, but turned the ball over 13 times the second half.
“I thought in the first half we moved the ball extremely well, attacked, swung the ball, found the open man and hit shots,” coach Mike Carey said. “In the second half, we kind of just stood around. We didn't attack anymore, and they started attacking us, and we put them at the foul line.”
At the 14:29 mark of the opening half, the Mountaineers went on a 20-2 run over the next seven minutes for their largest lead, 33-11. WVU held a 17-point halftime lead, 42-25, while matching a season-low two turnovers for the half.
Senior guard Christal Caldwell
had a game-leading, and career-best, 26 points, while sophomore guard Bria Holmes
added 20 points and a pair of assists. It was Holmes’ third straight outing with at least 20 points.
Junior forward Averee Fields
chipped in 10 points, seven rebounds and a pair of steals. Senior center Asya Bussie
led all players in rebounding with 12 boards, and blocked three shots, but was limited to only three points in 28 minutes.
West Virginia outrebounded UAlbany, 39-33. WVU shot 42.6 percent (23-54) from the field, while UAlbany shot 46 percent (23-50). The Mountaineers made 73.5 percent (25-34) from the free throw line, while the Great Danes converted 48.3 percent (14-29) from the charity stripe.
UAlbany’s Shereesha Richards entered the game averaging 20.3 points per game, but was held to only nine points and turned the ball over four times in 26 minutes. Morgan Craig led the Great Danes in scoring with 23 points, while Sarah Royals added 14 points. Tammy Phillip led UA on the boards with nine rebounds.
“Nothing against Albany, but if we play like that, LSU will beat us,” Carey said. “Let's just face it. We're going to have to play for 40 minutes. It's going to have to be a 40-minute game and play hard for 40 minutes and concentrate and attack for 40 minutes and play defense for 40 minutes. It's going to be a tough game.”
WVU advances to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the eighth time in program history, and the sixth time under coach Carey. Tuesday’s game will air live on ESPN, and will also be available live on ESPN3.