Bearcats Make Big East Field

With a 59-54 victory over Syracuse the Bearcats earn a berth in the Big East field as the tournament draws near.

CINCINNATI – It couldn't have been scripted any better. The University of Cincinnati secured its No. 11 seed in the BIG EAST Championship with a 59-54 win over Syracuse on Monday night – senior night – at Fifth Third Arena. And it was UC's seniors that stepped up and enjoyed a magical night.


Senior Karen Twehues scored a team-high 14 points, all in the first half, and UC's other senior, Treasure Humphries, took over in the second half with 11 points, giving her 1,001 in her career. She also posted a career-high 12 rebounds for her second career double-double and also dished out six assists for the Bearcats (15-13, 6-10 BIG EAST).


"Everything about this game was good," said UC coach Laurie Pirtle. We came back. We executed and the team really came together.


"I clearly remember my last game as a senior and winning," she added. "It's something you never forget. I'm so happy for these girls and the memory of this night that they will always have."


After scorching the nets in the first half, the Orange (9-20, 3-13 BIG EAST) cooled down to shoot just 35 percent, including 29 percent from 3-point range. After being down by as many as 11 in the first period and down eight at the half, the Bearcats barreled back with a 7-0 run to start the second stanza and pulled ahead, 29-28, with 17:22 to play in the game on a Michelle Jones jumper. That's where it got interesting. There were four ties and 13 lead changes in eight minutes of action. UC finally took the lead for good when Jones banked in another jumper at the 9:14 mark of the second period.


Humphries gave UC its largest lead of the game – seven, 52-45 – with 2:27 left in the game. It also marked the moment she scored her 1,000th career point. The Orange rallied to pull with three, 57-54 with 20 seconds to play, but freshman Carla Jacobs (5-of-6) and Humphries (1-of-2) combined for six free throws in the final 53 seconds to help put the game away.


"Any given game any player can step up," said Humphries. "KT (Karen Twehues) got it done for us in the first half. Michelle Jones got us going in the second. Carla (Jacobs) hit clutch free throws in the end.


"It means a lot to me," said Humphries of scoring 1,000 points. "But it means more to me that I could celebrate with my teammates. I couldn't have done it without my team."


The Orange, who needed a win to advance to the BIG EAST Championship, held a 28-22 lead after the first half. The Bearcats got a cold start, missing their first seven baskets and not scoring until Twehues knocked down a triple with 17:04 left in the first period. The senior scored 14 of UC's 22 points in the first stanza. With 3:14 to play Cincinnati was shooting just 23 percent from the field, making just seven of 30 attempts. While UC was struggling from short range, Syracuse found its touch from 3-point range, making 67 percent (6-of-9) of its shots from behind the arc. Mary Joe Riley (3-for-3) and Nicole Michael (2-for-2) led the charge. Michael led the Orange with 12 points after 20 minutes of action. She finished with a game-high 31 points. SU went on a 7-0 run and went up 24-13 with 4:48 to play.


"Syracuse had to win," said Pirtle. "We weren't playing for as much as they were but we really wanted to maintain the 11 seed. We clearly got in and put ourselves in a better position."


The Bearcats, the No. 11 seed, will play the No. 6 seed in the BIG EAST Championship on Saturday, March 3 at the Civic Center in Hartford, Conn. Tip off will be 8 p.m. in the final game of the first round.


"We're a much better team this year," said Pirtle. "But everyone is improving. This is just a dynamite league."



Treasure Humphries had a career-high 12 rebounds, beating her mark 11 set vs. Villanova in UC's last home game (2/20/07). She also scored her 1,000 career point coming at the 2:28 point of the second half. She becomes the 21 UC women's basketball player to accomplish the feat.


UC had just seven turnovers, a season-low.


The Bearcats won for only the second time this season when trailing at the half (2-11).

The Bearcats will play Pitt in the first round at 8:00 pm. Below is a pdf file of the Women's bracket as released by the Big East Conference.

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