Streak Ends, But WVU Stays in Second Place

All good things must eventually come to an end. Saturday, it was a Valentine's Day heartbreak for the West Virginia women's basketball team, as their nine-game winning streak came to an end in an exciting, physical 70-64 loss to the #25 Eagles of Boston College in Morgantown.

As the game opened, it was all BC. After an early 2-2 tie, the Eagles went to work on the inside to take a 9-2 lead, sparked by back-to-back field goals by 6'4" Kathrin Ress. West Virginia struggled to find an offensive rhythm as BC was able to successfully slow the game tempo and work their offense. The gap peaked at 24-13 with 7:35 left on another layup by Ress when WVU finally started to get to work.

Yolanda Paige hit a three-pointer at 7:11 to close the gap to 24-16, and Meg Bulger hit a three to move WVU to within seven at 26-19 with 4:50 left. The Mountaineers then mounted a 9-0 run after a BC score to tie the game at 28. But, the Eagles calmly responded to take a 32-30 lead into the locker room with a layup by 6'4" Lisa Macchia as time expired in the half.

After a 32-32 tie on a basket by Michelle Carter to start the half, BC was able to stretch the lead out to six at 13:40 before WVU tried to mount another charge. The Mountaineers managed to close to within one at 43-42 with 11 minutes to go, but the Eagles responded with a basket by Ress to stretch it to 45-42. Again the lead went to five, then eight with 7:08 to go, then WVU tried another run. This time, it was stopped short at two point WVU deficits with three, two, and then one minutes to go at 64-62. After the customary fouls at the end, the Eagles escaped with the six point win. BC did not miss a free throw down the stretch, going 17-17 on the day to keep the Mountaineers at bay.

Saturday's game proved to be a virtual repeat of Tuesday evening's Virginia Tech game, with two notable exceptions (other than WVU's loss). While the nationally-ranked Eagles, much like the Hokies, again proved to be a much larger team than the Mountaineers, and while they were able to control game tempo as well, what made them a much more formidible opponent was their ability to use those two traits to their advantage. This was probably the most physical women's basketball game played in the Coliseum that I had ever seen - Boston College literally went on the attack the entire game; beating, bumping, and grinding their way inside the smaller Mountaineers for "easy" looking inside baskets and domination on the glass. Tempo wise, the difference between the Eagles and the Hokies is simple: Boston College maintained composure and managed to kill every momentum swing the game took in favor of the Mountaineers. At one point, with WVU in position for a stop on defense, BC used an in-bound pass and shot with one second left on the shot clock for a beautifully executed score to quiet the Coliseum crowd and stifle a WVU run toward the lead.

WVU was led in scoring by Meg Bulger, who came off the bench to score 17 on 5-13 shooting. However, Meg struggled on the glass, pulling down a below-average three rebounds. In fact, the glass was tough for WVU the entire game, as they were out-rebounded by BC 40-27. Yolanda Paige scored twelve and again dished out a big eight assists. Sherell Sowho was the only other Mountaineer in double figures with 11. Kate Bulger had nine points, Janell Dunlap eight, and Michelle Carter seven.

BC was led off the bench by Lisa Macchia with 18 points on 7-9 shooting, pulling down nine rebounds. Jessalyn Deveny was close behind with 17 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Kathrin Ress had 13 points and six boards.

West Virginia falls to 18-6, 9-3 in Big East conference play, still good enough for a tie for second in the conference with Notre Dame. The Mountaineers return to action Tuesday night against Harry Paretta's slow, low scoring, motion, but defending Big East champion and perennial contender Villanova Wildcats in Philadelphia.

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