Squeaking In

West Virginia's loss to Villanova didn't keep the Mountaineers from squeaking into the Big East tournament

Liad Suez Karni led Villanova in scoring with 21 points and Jenna Viani added 18 as the Villanova Wildcats defeated the West Virginia Mountaineers 69-56. However, even with the loss, West Virginia still finds itself as a twelve seed in the Big East Tournament, as Seton Hall and Providence, WVU's two competitors for the final tourneament slot, both lost their games as well.

Chakhia Cole led all scorers for WVU with 21 points and Olayinka Sanni added 14. Those two were the only Mountaineers in double figures, which does not bode well for the Big East tournament. West Virginia (12-15, 4-12) will have to get that third and fourth scorer in double figures if they hope to make a post-season run, but recent history doesn't show that to be very likely. In WVU's eight game losing streak, only twice have the Mountaineers have more than two players in double figures.

West Virginia showed some much needed-maturity against the Wildcats, as they only had 11 turnovers and out rebounded the visitors 34-25 in the contest. The Wildcats, though, were just a bit better in most of the stats as they only turned the ball over five times. They also rode their patient, screening offense to a 7-17 performance from behind the arc, compared to just 2-8 for the Mountaineers.

The Mountaineers only led one time in the game as Cole scored the first bucket of the game to take a 2-0 lead. Villanova grabbed the lead and kicked it out to seven points on a lay up by Suez Karni to put the Wildcats up 16-9. The Wildcats extended the lead out to as much as nine points, but Sanni's lay up with 30 seconds to go put the Mountaineers down five going into the locker room 35-30.

In the second half the WVU's momentum continued to build, as three times in the first seven minutes they cut the lead to two, the last time coming after a Cole lay up that put the Mountaineers down 40-38. But the Wildcats again extended out the lead as Viani hit consecutive three-pointers that extended the Wildcats' lead out to double figures for the first time at 58-46. The Mountaineers never could get the lead back under double figures for the rest of the half.

For the game WVU shot 23-49 from the field, but again struggled at the foul line, making only 8-15 attempts.

WVU will play the noon game on Saturday when they face fifth seed Louisville in Hartford, Conn. WVU defeated Louisville 99-73 in their only match up of the season in the Coliseum. WVU was led in that game by Meg Bulger, who scored 26 points. Bulger, of course, won't be available after suffering a season-ending knee injury eariler this year, so the Mountaineers will have to find a way to replace her scoring if they want to advance.

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