Bad Start

West Virginia's women's basketball team blew a 13-point lead in the final 12 minutes to lose its season opener 57-54 to the University of Texas-San Antonio at the Central Florida Golden Knights Classic on Friday.

The Mountaineers (0-1) led 42-29 on Meg Bulger's jumper with 13 minutes left, but did not hit another field goal for nearly eight minutes as UTSA took a 47-43 lead.

Bulger's three-pointer with 4:25 left broke the scoring draught and brought WVU within one, 47-46. But the Roadrunners (1-0) held on with poor WVU free throw shooting -- it finished just seven of 14 -- and missed defensive assignments.

The collapse ruined the return of 6-5 center Yelena Leuchanka (ACL surgery), who had her second career double-double with a career-high 18 points and 13 rebounds. UTSA was led by Terrie Davis' (5-8 sophomore guard) 17 points. She had just five at the half. Lacy Mingee (6-3 senior center) added 12, including San Antonio's first 10 of the second half.

That was the majority of the 18-1 UTSA run that turned a 42-29 WVU lead into a 47-43 Roadrunner edge with 4:37 remaining. West Virginia took one more lead on a Bulger jumper (51-50), then allowed Mingee to break open inside to give UTSA the lead for good at 52-21. Farren Fox (5-11 freshman guard) hit her second three-pointer of the game a possession later to seal the victory.

West Virginia appeared to have its sixth season-opening win in a row before getting into major foul trouble. Leuchanka had four fouls with 14 minutes left and inside stalwart Yinka Sanni played just eight minutes after getting two quick fouls in the first half and then fouling twice within the first 30 seconds of the second half. She was removed in favor of defensive-oriented Jeriece Lee for all but one minute for the rest of the game.

Sanni fouled out on a moving screen within 15 seconds of when she reentered. The foul was WVU's 19th turnover. The 20th came when Bulger was called for a charge when backing in to a player underneath.

The series showcased West Virginia's offensive indecision. With Bulger ineffective against a Box-and-1 defense, the Mountaineers did not know to whom to get the ball with Leuchanka and Sanni on the bench. Two freshman point guards and injuries also hurt WVU's effort.

Bulger finished with 13 points but did not make a field goal until less than three minutes remained in the first half. Sanni and Chakia Cole each scored six.

WVU went just nine of 32 (28 percent) from the floor in the second half. UTSA, meanwhile, rebounded from eight of 29 shooting in the first half to go16 of 31 (52 percent) in the second period. The Mountaineers had 22 turnovers in losing for the first time in six season openers.

WVU shot 52 percent from the floor in the first half and had a 20-2 advantage in points in the point for a 32-21 halftime lead. The Mountaineers' largest lead was 26-13 at the 4:32 mark when Cole hit consecutive lay-ups off a Leuchanka block and a steal. WVU build the lead by holding the Roadrunners scoreless for 11:25.

West Virginia plays Central Florida at 6 p.m. on Saturday. It opens its home schedule Nov. 26 versus Fordham in the first half of a double-header with the men's team, which plays Louisiana State and will retire Jerry West's jersey at halftime.


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