Double Teamed

In the first half it was Chakhia Cole. In the second half, Yinka Sanni. And in the end, it was too much for Xavier as WVU rode its powerful pair to a 65-52 win in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Cole scored 17 of West Virginia's 31 first half points to help the Mountaineers to a comfortable 13-point lead at the half, then Sanni burst out of the second half starting gate with eight consecutive points to put away any thoughts of a Musketeer comeback. Sanni matched Cole's first half outburst with 17 of her own in the second half on the way to 20 points overall, which earned her ESPN's player of the game honors. Cole added four in the second half for a game-high 21.

Although the Mountaineers were just 4-17 from three-point range, the determined interior play of Cole and Sanni kept West Virginia in control for most of the contest. Cole pounded the boards with 12 rebunds, giving her a double-double, while Sanni added eight. Cole played all 40 minutes, while Sanni tallied 36.

Overall, WVU scored 32 points in the paint against Xavier's 14, and with the Musketeers' outside shooting on the fritz, Mike Carey's squad controlled the game almost throughout.

Sanni more than evenly battled Xavier's Amber Harris, who finished with 19 points and ten rebounds, despite giving up four inches to the 6-5 A1-0 rookie of the year. And with no one to contest Cole's first half dominance, the Mountaineers built a lead that never dropped below double digits in the second half.

WVU point guard Ashley Powell also had a solid evening, scoring seven points, snaring nine rebounds and dishing out six assists in 36 minutes of action. She also had one block and one steal as WVU's swarming defense held Xavier to just 30% shooting from the field, including a rim-clanging 7-27 from three-point range.

West Virgini now faces the winner of the LSU - UNC-Asheville game on Monday, Mar. 19, for a trip to the Sweet 16.

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