Late Run Not Enough

It was just a case of too little, too late. Big runs have been a trademark of the West Virginia women's basketball team this season, but the run that came on Saturday ran out of time as the University of Miami Hurricanes downed the Mountaineers, 82-74 in Coral Gables.

West Virginia extended its streak of poor showings on defense to four games and complemented that with a pretty poor showing on offense for 38 minutes. The result was a game that WVU was only in for a few minutes. The Mountaineers shot a horrid 36% from the floor (26% for the first half), and were out-rebounded 32-44.

West Virginia held its only lead of the game at 2-0 on a basket by Michelle Carter 31 seconds after the opening tip. Melissa Knight quickly responded with a three-pointer to make the score 3-2, keying a 9-0 Miami run. The Mountaineers battled back to make the score 10-7, but the Hurricanes then extended the lead back to 16-9. Another WVU mini-run closed the game to 16-14, but again Miami jumped out, this time to a 26-19 lead. The game never got any closer for the next 24 minutes, and the Hurricanes took a 37-26 lead into halftime.

The second half saw Miami lead by as much as 22 at 68-46 with about five minutes to go in the game. Important to note is that Miami forward Chanivia Broussard really keyed the 'Canes in the second half, in which she scored 19 of her game-high 25 points. Broussard scored seven of the nine points in a 9-0 Hurricane run to start the half and 12 of their first fourteen.

WVU was finally able to make some headway when Broussard fouled out of the game at the five minute mark, as the Mountaineers began to slowly chip away at the Miami lead. Yolanda Paige went on a tear, scoring six straight for WVU after being held scoreless to that point, bringing the score to 70-52. Kate Bulger, who had scored nine in the first half, then began raining three pointers on the Hurricanes. Kate buried four from beyond the arc in the final two minutes, and Paige chipped in another four as the Mountaineers closed to within six at 74-68 with 37 seconds left in the game.

However, Miami was able to hit their free throws in the end and WVU came up eight points short. The game ended on a 26-12 WVU run (eight of those points coming on Miami free throws in the final 37 seconds).

Kate Bulger led the Mountaineers with 28 points on 9-21 shooting, including 8-15 from beyond the arc. This was Kate's 30th career 20-point game, and she moved past Donna Abbott into sole possession of fourth on WVU's all-time scoring list, with 1,677 points. It is possible, if WVU extends it postseason, that Kate could reach one of my personal favorites, Talisha Hargis, who is in third place with 1,751 points.

In addition, Kate tied Villanova's Trish Juhline for the Big East career three-point field goal record with 157. Finally, Kate has scored 80 three-pointers for the season, three shy of Christie Lambert's 83 for the WVU record.

Michelle Carter scored 14 points for the Mountaineers on 6-12 shooting. Yolanda Paige scored a double-double, with 12 points and 12 assists. Paige extends her WVU record for assists in a season to 216, and moves past Dionne Morris for third on the career assists list with 568. Janell Dunlap scored 11, Meg Bulger six, and Sherell Sowho three.

All Miami scorers scored in double digits, and reserve Hutashi Wilson nearly made it as well with seven points in 24 minutes.

WVU falls to 19-8, 10-5 in Big East conference play. The Mountaineers cannot finish any lower than sixth in the regular season, and that is likely where they will end up as they face #1 UConn to finish out the season in Storrs on Tuesday evening.

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