Just Short

The Cinderella run of the West Virginia Mountaineers came to an end in the finals of the Big East tournament, but not without a fight. The Mountaineers scrapped, defended, and played their hearts out but couldn't overcome the lack of offense to pull off their fourth upset in four days as they fell 50-44 to the Big East Tournament Champion Connecticut Huskies.

The Mountaineers played very hard, and their defense again kept them in the game as they held the Huskies to a 17-49 shooting performance from the field. However, WVU could not muster any offense either, as it shot just 15-62 from the field, including a frigid 2-19 from three-point range. The lack of offense helped in putting up remarkable rebounding numbers as both teams combined for 84 rebounds, evenly split at 42 apiece.

WVU's twin towers down low had very productive games as Olayinka Sanni picked up a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, and Yelena Leuchanka had 10 points, all in the first half. Leuchanka's first half performance kept WVU in the game in the opening 20 minutes as West Virginia struggled to make shots. Britney Davis-White was the third scorer in double figures for the Mountaineers as she added 12 points, but she connected on only three of 17 attempts from the field, and was just 1-8 from behind the three-point line.

For UConn Ann Strother led the way as she dropped in 20 points for the game, 14 of those coming in the second half. Renee Montgomery was the only other player in double figures for the Huskies as she dropped in 11 points.

The game started off eerily similar to the teams' first meeting as UConn came out of the gates smoking on a 10-0 run that was capped off by a Barbara Turner jumper. The Mountaineers fought back as they held the Huskies scoreless for nearly nine minutes and went on a 9-0 run of their own to get the lead down to four at 16-12. At the half, after a pair of Montgomery foul shots, the Mountaineers found themselves down 23-16.

In the second half WVU came out with what passed for a run in the low-scoring game, going on a 6-0 run that Davis-White capped off when she hit a driving lay up that cut the lead down to one point at 23-22. It then was the Huskies' turn as Ketia Swanier hit a three-pointer that extended the lead back out to eight at 32-24. The Mountaineers never gave up as again they came back, as Davis-White hit 1-2 from the free throw line to again cut the lead down to one at 32-31.

Then Strother took over, as the senior scored 11 straight points for the Huskies and got the lead back out to eight at 43-35 with just over four minutes to go. Again the Mountaineers fought back as Davis-White hit her only three of the game, Sanni connected on 1-2 from the line, and LaQuita Owens made a lay up to again cut the Huskies' lead to one point at 45-44 with 29 seconds left.

At that point, however, WVU's youth showed. The Mountaineers' next two possessions ended without shots, as freshmen Ashley Powell picked up a charging foul and Sarah Bucar threw the ball away. Those two turnovers sealed the deal for the Huskies as they made three of four free throws down the stretch to secure the win.

Britney Davis-White and Chakhia Cole were named to the all-tournament team for their performances.

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