Women Take Backyard Brawl

If Kate Bulger doesn't like playing against her hometown schools, she needs to be a little more convincing. Bulger scored 28 points to lead all scorers in another big-time performance against a team from her own turf as the West Virginia University women's basketball team scored an important 65-58 victory in their edition of the Backyard Brawl against Pitt in Morgantown Saturday afternoon.

The win gives WVU its first conference victory of the season in its first attempt, an important confidence booster for a Mountaineer team that lost a heartbreaker at Pitt late last season and struggled to get any conference win during the 2002-03 campaign.

The game started out for West Virginia much in the opposite way the UMKC game was played last Tuesday. The Mountaineers sprang out to a 16-0 lead in the first five minutes, hitting on all offensive and defensive cylinders and getting all five starters (Bulger, Yolanda Paige, Sherell Sowho, Michelle Carter and Janell Dunlap) on the board with scores.

But, as quickly as they jumped to the lead, the bottom fell out and it began to look like UMKC all over again. Rebounding became non-existent and shooting went cold - the result was again "one and done" on offense. In the meantime, a softened Mountaineer defense (not quite a man-to-man, not quite a zone) allowed a three-point barrage by Danielle Taylor and Jessica Allen. Pitt managed to tie the game at 28 with 2:28 left to go in the half and the two teams battled to a stalemate at halftime with 32 points apiece.

The second half started with Pitt actually grabbing the lead twice early on before the Mountaineers took control. While never actually pulling away by a margin of more than nine points (that came with 3:26 to go), Kate and Meg Bulger were the two to watch for WVU. Kate opened up the game for WVU by nailing a three off an assist from her sister with 4:51 to go, making the score 54-51. Meg followed that up with a three of her own to pull the Mountaineers out to a six point lead. Kate capped off the 9-0 run with a three at 3:26, pretty much sealing the Panthers' fate. Pitt managed to pull within four once before WVU pulled out to the final margin of 65-58.

Kate Bulger scored 28 points on 11-17 shooting for West Virginia, including 6-11 from three-point range. The 28 is a season high for Bulger. Michelle Carter was the only other Mountaineer in double-digits, scoring 12 on 5-8 shooting and pulling down a team-high eight rebounds.

Janell Dunlap scored six, Sherell Sowho and Meg Bulger each had five, and Yolanda Paige scored nine points with nine assists. Pitt was led by Cheron Taylor with 13 points.

WVU advances to 9-3, and, probably most importantly, 1-0 in the Big East conference. Pitt falls to 4-7, and 0-1 in the league. WVU's next game is a big one, Wednesday at home against the #1 (as of this writing) Connecticut Huskies who lost to Duke Saturday afternoon.

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