Women Washed Away Under Rain of Threes

When it rains, it pours. That certainly was the case in the greater Philadelphia area this evening as the Wildcats of Villanova rained three-point shots and free throws on the visiting West Virginia women's basketball team to score their 18th victory of the season, 74-67.

Or should I say patience is a virtue? The game was played to a typical Villanova tempo: slow, half court, motion offense. Rarely did the Wildcats take a shot with more than ten seconds remaining on the shot clock. Like molasses, they built a 34-21 lead through most of the first half by being patient and turning the ball over only once, while WVU, taken out of its up-tempo rhythm, gave the ball up five times.

The Wildcats were able to use their three-point prowess to get the better end of what could only be described as a miserable defensive performance by both teams in the first half of the game. They built a lead that, while not insurmountable, certainly gave them the cushion they needed to pull out the victory. Villanova shot 8-13 in the first half from beyond the arc, while WVU converted on only three attempts. In the meantime, the Wildcats were a hot 56% from the floor overall, with the Mountaineers close behind at 54%, and each team had 11 rebounds. The result was a nine point 40-31 Villanova lead going into the locker room.

West Virginia picked up on the defense early in the second half while staying hot on offense. The Mountaineers opened up with a 7-0 run that closed the game to within two at 40-38. Courtney Mix was the only offense Villanova could muster in the first 7:30, scoring four points on a field goal and a pair of free throws.

WVU took its first lead of the game at 48-47 on a field goal by Meg Bulger with just under 12 minutes remaining, and the two teams exchanged the lead primarily through free throws in the next five minutes. Kelly Nash broke the stalemate, and arguably WVU's back, with a three-pointer to bring the Wildcats to a 55-53 lead with 7:25 remaining. WVU fought back, but Nash nailed another three at 4:31 to pull the lead to 63-59, and WVU never managed to get any closer than two from that point on.

Consider the following statistics: Villanova shot a whopping 21-23 from the free throw line, WVU just 9-13. The Wildcats committed, by my count, three turnovers to WVU's 11. While, in the great scheme of averages, the Mountaineers didn't do too bad (especially when they finished the game shooting 54% from the field), Villanova came out looking spectacular while only shooting 40%.

West Virginia has now dropped two straight and will have a week off before returning to action next Tuesday at the Coliseum against Rutgers. WVU is now 18-7, 9-4 and dropping into a big middle-of-the-pack field in the Big East conference.

Next Tuesday's game with Rutgers is extremely critical in determining where WVU will wind up not only in the Big East tournament, but in the postseason. A win will keep alive WVU's hopes at reaching the NCAA tournament, while a loss almost seals a trip to the WNIT.

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