Fouled Out

West Virginia's hopes of an upset of third seeded LSU were drowned in a cacaphony of whistles on Monday evening.

The Mountaineers, playing much better than in their first matchup with the Tigers, battled throughout the contest, and at one juncture held an 11-point lead (35-24) in the second half. However, a quick and questionable fourth foul on center Yinka Sanni, who helped the Mountaineers forge the double-digit advantage, sent her to the bench with more than 15 minutes remaining in the second period. Similar chintzy calls against Chakhia Cole and Ashley Powell left three WVU players with four fouls in the second half, and severely hampered West Virginia's efforst on the defensive end.

The stricture against contact apparently only extended to one end, as several Tiger claws were ignored by the officiating crew. The resulting 16-8 differential in fouls played a huge part in the contest, and allowed LSU to rally for a 49-43 win. The Mountaineers shot jsut six free throws, with four coming in the final two minutes of the game.

Defense was the order of the day, as neither team allowed the other many open looks at the basket. In the first half, which ended at 21-18 in favor of the Tigers, both teams clamped down (in many cases, literally so) on the defensive end. Combined with a slowed pace from the West Virginia offense, scoring was at a premium. Many bumps and shoves that would have been called in a regular season game were ignored by the officiating crew of Wes Dean, Charles Gonzalez and Anita Ortega, thus making for tough going on the offensive end.

Neither team could get its outside shooting online, either, although the Tigers did hit two buzzer-beating three-pointers that turned out to be part of the difference in the contest. West Virginia was just 1-12 from beyond the arc, while LSU was 4-16.

In Sanni's absence (she played just 27 minutes, sitting out more than 11 in the second half), point guard Ashley Powell stepped in to score a career-high 13 points before fouling out late in the contest. Chakhia Cole was the only other Mountaineer in double figures, with 11. Sparkle Davis scored just two points, but chipped in with seven rebounds.

On LSU's end, center Sylvia Fowles was nearly perfect, making nine of ten shots from the field on her way to 21 points. She completed a double-double with 13 rebounds.

West Virginia finishes the season at 21-11, and with bright hopes for the future. Mike Carey loses backups Britney Davis-White and Tameka Kelly, but will welcome the return of Meg Bulger for what promises to be another outstanding season in 2007-08.

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