Women Outlast Roos

The holiday season is quickly wrapping to a close, but the West Virginia University women's basketball team seemed to still be in the giving mood in Morgantown against UMKC. WVU blew a 50-37 lead five minutes in the second half to nearly lose to the unheralded University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) Kangaroos before pulling away to a 69-63 overtime victory on six free throws by Yolanda Paige.

West Virginia was certainly short-handed in this game. The roster saw itself trimmed to a slim eight players as neither Lisa Costello nor Ramika McGee were found to be suited up to play during the pre-game warmups. This meant that WVU found itself with only two "big" players in Michelle Carter and Latitia Williams, and one point guard in Paige. Nonetheless, the size, speed, and sharp shooting of the gold and blue on paper still should have shown enough to prove no worry to Coach Carey - but then the game began.

UMKC won the tip and jumped to a quick 2-0 lead on a basket by freshman guard Jayme Sweere. WVU responded early on seven points from Michelle Carter and a basket by Paige to take a 9-3 lead. But, UMKC was quick to fight back with a pair of three-point baskets by Katie Houlehan to tie the score at 11-11 with 14:15 to go in the first half.

The remainder of the half was a back and forth struggle with the largest lead being held by the Kangaroos at 29-24 with less than five minutes to go. A quick three by Meg Bulger and a basket by Janell Dunlap with 3:59 to go tied the game back up at 29, and WVU managed to spurt out to a 36-31 lead at halftime as Meg and Dunlap continued to warm up.

The second half opened with a 14-6 Mountaineer run that made the Coliseum faithful feel much better that perhaps it would just take some time to wear UMKC down. WVU had a 50-37 lead with 15:01 remaining in the game that stayed pretty much sustained - the lead was still 59-50 with eight minutes remaining, but that was the point where things got awfully cold.

WVU managed only two more points in regulation as UMKC battled back to make the score 59-61 with about 1:30 remaining. WVU then proceeded to commit three straight turnovers, including an inbound violation with 21.1 seconds left in the game (and plenty of timeouts left) to give UMKC several chances to tie things up or take the lead with a three.

The third time turned out to be a charm (in two cases) as Liz Obrecht scored on a THIRD CHANCE shot during the ensuing possession as time expired (personally I thought time had expired before the shot was released) to tie the game at 61 and send it into overtime.

Overtime saw the same sluggishness from WVU but also finally saw the Kangaroos worn down. Yolanda Paige shot 6-8 from the free throw line and Sherell Sowho scored a bucket to propel WVU to the 69-63 win.

West Virginia struggled mightily with rebounds during the whole game - WVU was out-rebounded by a huge margin of 54-40. UMKC got countless second and third chance shots while WVU was basically "one and done" on offense - it was a third chance shot that sent the game into overtime as the buzzer sounded and the Kangaroos took 81 shots to WVU's 56. The Kangaroo's system of picks also seemed to baffle the Mountaineer defense, giving the visitors great open opportunities from the outside as they struggled in the paint.

The Mountaineers were sluggish to say the least. Perhaps it was the ten day layoff, or perhaps they were looking ahead to Saturday's Big East opener against Pitt. Regardless of the circumstance, they played their worst in a win so far this year - very similar to the win at UMKC last year. Kate Bulger, probably the most important player for WVU to have on the floor, and Latitia Williams, especially important in this game with McGee out, both failed to show up. The result was a Mountaineer team that had to win primarily on the backs of Paige and Sherell Sowho, a formula that hasn't worked out much before in the past and today barely managed to yield dividends, despite great efforts by both.

Kate Bulger scored only two points for West Virginia. The Mountaineers were led by Paige and Sowho, who each scored 18. Michelle Carter and Janell Dunlap each tossed in 11, and Meg Bulger scored seven. Kate Glusko scored two points, probably the most thrilling two of the night for WVU, with an off-balance, falling forward shot in the paint with 2:41 left in the game, the only score by WVU in the final eight minutes.

West Virginia advances to 8-3 and opens Big East conference play Saturday at home against Pitt at 4:00pm. UMKC falls to 3-7.

BlueGoldNews Top Stories