No Encore

Last season, the Mountaineer women's basketball team nearly pulled off the upset of all upsets at the Big East Tournament by winning three games before losing in the championship. This season, there will be no encore to last year's run.

The Mountaineers dropped their lone contest in this year's Big East Tournament to the Louisville Cardinals by a final of 68-56.

West Virginia (20-10) actually scored first, but from that point on it was all Louisville in the first half. The Cardinals blew the game wide open with a 23-3 over the next 10:46. Though there was still plenty of time remaining, the outcame was basically decided during that first half run. Louisville's largest lead was 18 points.

The Cardinals went into the locker room leading 26-14. As bad as the fourth-seeded Mountaineers had played, they still were within striking distance of their fifth-seeded rivals to the Southwest. If they were going to defeat Louisville for the second time in a week, though, they needed something positive to start the second half.

Junior guard LaQuita Owens took it upon herself to deliver for the Blue and Gold. The reigning Big East Player of the Week (and second team All-Big East pick) came out scorching in the final 20 minutes to lead West Virginia back into the game. Owens began the half by scoring 14 points in the first six minutes of play as the Mountaineers chipped away at Louisville's lead.

The problem for West Virginia in the second half wasn't on offense, though. The Mountaineer defense could not come up with a big stop when they needed to, which Louisville took full advantage of. After a pair of Chakhia Cole free throws cut the Louisville lead to just five, the Cardinals came down the court and missed a three-point shot. West Virginia could not snare the rebound, which was picked up by Cardinals forward Jazz Covington, who found a wide open Helen Johnson for a three.

On the next possession, Big East Player of the Year Angel McCoughtry hit another three for Louisville, which now held an 11-point lead. West Virginia would not get within eight points the rest of the way.

Owens led the Mountaineers with 28 points, including 26 in the second half. She also added 13 rebounds and a pair of steals while playing 37 minutes. First team All-Big East selection Olayinka Sanni was battling the flu, and finished with just four points on 1-7 shooting to go along with a pair of rebounds. Lateefah Joye was the only other Mountaineer player in double figures with 13 points.

Louisville was led - as usual - by McCoughtry, who finished with 26 points and 17 rebounds. Covington added 11 for the Cardinals, who adcance to the semi-finals and await the winner of this afternoon's game between South Florida and Connecticut.

West Virginia, which despite a sub-.500 regular season won three games in last year's tournament before losing to Connecticut in the finals, will now wait until next Monday night's NCAA Tournament selections are announced before knowing its next opponent.

BlueGoldNews Top Stories