Women Shanghaied By Pirates

One of my favorite (and most overused) quotes has to be Yogi Berra's "it's like deja vu all over again." After a half of action in South Orange, New Jersey Sunday afternoon, I thought I was going to be able to use that quote (again) to compare the matchup between West Virginia and Seton Hall to a game earlier in the week in which the Mountaineers defeated Georgetown.

Sadly, the phrase is going to have to be locked back up in the vault and utilized at another time, as the Mountaineers were plundered by the Pirates, 68-52.

It looked early on as if the Mountaineers were looking at their second straight Georgetown game. The virtual absence of Kate Bulger and Brandi Batch, some early threes by the Pirates, and the back-and-forth changes of the lead appeared to favor the Mountaineers as they led going into halftime, 28-27. Seton Hall was 0-9 when trailing at halftime this season.

Unfortunately, the woes with Batch and Bulger caught up to the rest of the team, with only a couple of players able to step up and make a fight of it, and the Mountaineers were really not a factor in the second half as the Pirates coasted to victory.

The first half started out with vintage West Virginia play. The Mountaineers fell behind 6-2 as Cecilia Lindqvist scored a quick five for the Pirates. After the first timeout, Yolanda Paige was able to respond, sinking a three that would have led one to believe that perhaps the woes from behind the arc would be snapped for the Mountaineers. The lead was traded back-and-forth throughout, with the largest lead for West Virginia being four at 24-20 on another Paige three with about 3:00 to go in the half.

That lead quickly evaporated on a response by Lindqvist, making the score 24-23 then a pair of free throws by Tine Duelund to make it 25-24 in favor of the Hall. But, as has been the case for the comeback kids, West Virginia was able to come back and make the score 28-27 at the half.

Early on, you could see problems developing for West Virginia. Brandi Batch, a non-factor against Georgetown, was once again struggling, riding the bench with two early fouls and only two points.

Kate Bulger showed some signs of life, scoring five on 2-5 shooting, but two of those came late in the half, and she hadn't had much chance to shoot. To make matters worse, Georgetown hero Eartha White grabbed two fouls and only shot twice in the half, scoring two.

Zsophia Horvath once again had a nice effort off the bench at the half, scoring five on 2-4 shooting (1-2 FT), grabbing three rebounds, a block, and a steal, but five points is difficult to make up for three cold players who might have five each at least in a typical game. She, Sherell Sowho, and Yolanda Paige were the only Mountaineers showing signs of life at the half.

Needless to say, the Mountaineers weren't able to hang on today like they did against the Hoyas. The second half saw the walls cave in, as the Pirates opened up the half with a 9-0 run that swelled into a 19-4 run to eliminate any serious hopes of a Mountaineer victory. While the Pirates were unable to take advantage of the Mountaineer three-point defense weakness, they were able to capitalize on a rare breakdown of the inside defense.

Eartha White was slowed by an injury early in the half, and Brandi Batch sat down for another foul before coming back later on. Zsophia Horvath, who had done a very good job in the first half of holding down Pirate post powers Susan Murray and Charlene Thomas, was unable to contain them forever.

Mary Grace Carson, normally good for at least five or six rebounds, was virtually invisible, and Batch's contribution when she returned was purely on offense (though, to her credit, the game was pretty much out of hand at the point she left and more-so when she came back).

Seton Hall's shooting percentage went from 39% in the first half to 44% for the game, while West Virginia went from 44% to 33%. The turnovers were atrocious. West Virginia, able to keep their turnovers close to ten in recent games, committed 20, though the Pirates committed 17.

Free throws and personal fouls, normally a Mountaineer advantage, looked like they would be the difference for the Pirates, but in the end they only scored five more than the Mountaineers. The difference, as has been the case for most other Mountaineer losses this season, was the inability for anyone to step in the shoes of Batch and Bulger.

Sherell Sowho tried her best, but her effort alone couldn't do it. She scored 16 points on 8-21 shooting and grabbed four rebounds, but she turned the ball over seven times. Yolanda Paige was close behind with 12 points on 3-7 shooting and five rebounds, and a big five assists, but she turned it over five times.

Brandi Batch came back for a productive nine points, but that wasn't nearly enough to make up for Eartha White's two. Zsophia Horvath was good, but would have been better if her 2-4 performance in the first half had carried over into her 0-1 second half effort. She finished with five points and six rebounds. Mary Grace Carson was the only other Mountaineer to score with three. White did lead the Mountaineers with nine rebounds.

As I said, Seton Hall's inside was too much for West Virginia, even with their leading scorer, Leslie Ardon, out for the season. Charlene Thomas led the Pirates with 17 points on 8-12 shooting in just 22 minutes. Lindqvist followed her with 12 points on 5-17 shooting. Ayanna Phillip had nine points and ten rebounds, Murray had six points, Melissa Langelier had six points and eight rebounds, Simona Burgess had four, and Tine Duelund and Ashley Bush had two each.

The Mountaineers have now fallen to 13-9, on the season, and still remain one win away from securing a .500 record. Seton Hall advances to 12-11 and 4-8 in the conference.

West Virginia now must try to answer the tough question of who is going to step up quickly tomorrow in practice, as they have a matchup Tuesday evening at home with the #18 (as of today) team in the nation, Boston College. As you may recall, West Virginia faced problems similar to today's in a 76-51 loss to the Eagles earlier this season in Chestnut Hill.

The Eagles took it on the chin from Notre Dame 60-44 on Sunday, so there may be a chance of catching them on a downswing, but that would appear unlikely as the Mountaineers didn't fare much better. The game could be crucial in determining if the Mountaineers have any chances at a postseason bid, as an upset would definitely garner some national attention and, of course, secure that .500 record. But right now, we can only wait, see, and hope for the first-ever Mountaineer win over the Eagles. The game will tip-off at 7:30pm.

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