Close not enough for West Virginia women vs. UConn
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The West Virginia women came close to beating Connecticut on Tuesday at the Coliseum — an admirable feat for a team mired in a recent tailspin.
The Mountaineers, who led by two at the half, lost, 57-51, which means they came closer to beating Connecticut than No. 3 Duke, No. 9 DePaul and No. 10 North Carolina. Closer than all but No. 8 Notre Dame, which lost by just three to the Huskies, and now-No. 1 Baylor, which lost by one.
Mike Carey's message to his players after the game• The effort wasn't good enough.
"We lost. We lost. OK?" Carey said. "A lot of people are going to think, 'Oh, you only lost by six to Connecticut,' but they took the lead and we got shook up again.
"We turned it over, had missed assignments, we got rattled. The difference in my opinion was when they struggled to score, they went to Maya (Moore). When we struggled, we struggled. Simple as that."
Moore scored 27 points, and Stefanie Dolson had 10 in the win for No. 2 Connecticut (22-1, 10-0 Big East). Madina Ali, who's playing with a stress fracture in her left leg, led No. 17 West Virginia (20-5, 6-5) with 17 points and eight rebounds. Liz Repella scored 13.
The Mountaineers outrebounded Connecticut, 37-29, but still lost for the fourth time in five games.
Trailing 29-27 at the end of the first half, Connecticut tied the game with the opening basket of the second half. Five and a half minutes later, they led, 32-31, as both teams struggled to score.
West Virginia's Sarah Miles' mid-range jump shot and tie it, 34-34, six minutes in. Connecticut regained the lead, but Ali made two free throws to tie the game with 13 minutes left to play.
Connecticut took a four-point lead on jump shots from Moore and Dolson, but Repella hit a 3-pointer to pull within one with 8 1⁄2 minutes left.
Moore answered with a three, and from that point, Connecticut ran. A 7-0 spurt gave them their largest lead before Ali hit a 3-pointer, but Moore came right back with a jump shot and the Huskies went ahead by eight.
"We're fortunate to come out with a win," Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said. "This could very easily have been a West Virginia win. Maya just happened to make a couple plays and a couple shots, and that was the difference."
West Virginia took to a 12-5 lead to open the game, fueled by two 3-pointers from Repella and five Huskies turnovers. Auriemma called timeout with his team down, 20-12, and eight minutes left in the first half.
Sparked by Moore's eight points, Connecticut outscored West Virginia, 15-9, over the final eight minutes of the half.
"I do give our girls credit," Carey said. "Our girls played hard, and it's just the same old story. We struggled to score. Any time you can hold Connecticut to 57, you should have a good chance of winning. But we don't score enough, and it's a shame."