Times West Virginian
HARTFORD, Conn. —
The West Virginia University women’s basketball team’s defensive efforts helped the Mountaineers to a 63-48 win over Syracuse in the second round of the Big East Championships at the XL Center on Saturday.
“I thought it was a very physical game for both teams,” WVU coach Mike Carey said. “I thought our guards attacked extremely well, but we weren’t finishing. We kept rebounding, kept attacking, and eventually some of those started falling. I thought it was a total team effort. If you look at the scoring, we spread it out and played a lot of people to keep fresh guards in there. It worked well for us.”
The Orange (18-14) entered the game as the fifth-leading offensive team in the Big East, averaging 69.4 points per game and was limited to its third-lowest scoring total this season with 48 points. Scoring leader Iasia Hemingway averaged 15.5 points per game entering the contest and was limited to nine points, while Kayla Alexander recorded four points, 10 points below her season scoring average. The Mountaineers (22-8) out-rebounded Syracuse 43-42, a team that had only been out-rebounded on five occasions this season.
The Mountaineers were led by first team All-Big East selection Asya Bussie with 13 points. Bussie is now only three points away from reaching the 1,000-point milestone in her career. Ayana Dunning chipped in nine points and Taylor Palmer added another eight. Dunning also led WVU in rebounding for the 15th time with seven boards.
WVU’s greatest advantage came from the free throw line, converting 24-of-33 attempts (72.7 percent), while sending Syracuse to the line only 10 times, in which it earned seven points. WVU had the advantage from the field, shooting 35.3 percent (18-51) to a Syracuse 30.2 percent (19-63). Each team recorded three 3-pointers in the game.
Syracuse was led by Carmen Tyson-Thomas, who had 15 points and seven rebounds. Elashier Hall added another 11 points and nine rebounds.
The Mountaineers capitalized on turnovers, gaining 23 points off 17 Syracuse turnovers. WVU limited its turnovers to 14. Bussie and Linda Stepney each grabbed three steals, while Dunning and Akilah Bethel each put up a pair of blocks.
“I thought overall our players played extremely hard, and we’re looking forward to playing Georgetown,” Carey said.
WVU advances to the quarterfinal round against Georgetown at noon today. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU and online at ESPN3.com.
The Mountaineers are 4-4 in the quarterfinals in the history of the program. WVU is 0-1 when facing Georgetown in the Big East tournament. The only time the teams met in postseason, Georgetown defeated WVU 79-60 in the quarterfinals of the 1997 tournament. The last time the teams met, WVU lost to Georgetown 64-54 on Jan. 24, in Morgantown.