UT Downs WVU

West Virginia women's basketball head coach Mike Carey was disgusted after his team dropped a 67-49 decision to top-ranked Tennessee on Wednesday evening, but it wasn't the loss itself that had him fuming.

Instead, it was the manner in which his team played, and the attitude they displayed, that had the competitive coach irked.

"We will be working on attitudes in the next couple of weeks," he said. "I'm not frustrated with the lack of execution, because we can iron that out. I was frustrated with our intensity and a little bit of pouting when we were coming out of the game. Instead of cheering for our teammates we were feeling sorry for ourselves. I told them I'll play freshmen before I put up with that. I will go that route before I put up with any of that stuff."

The lack of discipline wasn't the cause of West Virginia's loss – but rather a byproduct of it. Tennessee, with taller, longer and more athletic players, hounded WVU's offense and kept it from functioning smoothly. Whether employing a fullcourt trap or a sticky halfcourt man to man, UT disrupted West Virginia's offense throughout the came.

Although West Virginia (3-1) fell behind early, it had numerous chances to get back into the game, but ice cold shooting, combined with timid play in key stretches, kept the Volunteers comfortably in front. WVU cut a first half deficit from 12 points down to four on Chakhia Cole's driving layup with 5:20 to go, but Tennessee scored 11 consecutive points to push the lead back out to 15 at 35-20 in just under three minutes.

West Virginia cut the margin to 11 at the half, and seemed to be getting back on track when it opened the second half with a backdoor cut and a lay-up by Sparkle Davis that pulled the Mountaineers to within nine at 37-28, but then the roof fell in.

"We ran a play there at the start of the second half to get a backdoor, and we got it, but then we tried to run it several more times and we couldn't execute it," Carey noted. "That's why we ended up playing a lot of one-on-one and taking bad shots. A"

Such tactics don't work against good teams, which Tennessee (4-0) certainly is. The Vols, led by Candace Parker's 29 points and 13 rebounds, dominated the Mountaineers on the boards, piling up a whopping 50 on the evening. Many of those were fueled by West Virginia's poor shooting. WVU was a frigid 7-31 from the field in the second half, and couldn't get any sort of shot to drop for extended stretches of the final 20 minutes.

What made that all the more frustrating was that Tennessee actually held the door open for WVU to get back into the game. UT went scoreless for a stretch of 3:16 in the second half while leading 44-31, and had the Mountaineers been able to get just two or three hoops over that span, they could have made a game of it. However, West Virginia scored just one point during that time, and ended up with a scoring drought of almost four minutes and 30 seconds of its own. By the time Meg Bulger hit a three-pointer to end the stretch, Tennessee had built a 17-point lead, and WVU never recovered.

"We didn't do what we needed to do. We talked about it in practice, but we didn't do a good job," Carey said. "I was very disappointed in our board work. I think we were forcing a lot [of shots]. Our spacing was poor, and we weren't picking for each other. We just couldn't get into it, and we couldn't execute on the offensive end."

WVU, which needed to hit some three-pointers to counter UT's height advantage, managed to make just three of 16. Bulger, (1-6) and LaQuita Owens (2-7) were the only players to convert from beyond the arc. Tennessee wasn't any better, making just 2-18, but the Vols' 46% success rate from two-point range made that shortcoming moot.

West Virginia was led by Olayinka Sannit's 16 points and eight rebounds. Despite missing two lay-ups and letting a pass that would have resulted in another hoop slip thorugh her fingers, Sanni, along with Cole (eight points) played aggressively against the Volunteers. Owens, with ten points, was the only other Mountaineer in double figures.


In response to a question about being part of the largest crowd for a women's basketball game in the history of the state, Carey responded with the type of answer that earned him a laugh, as well as some respect, from the assembled media.

"When you are on the losing team, it's not a lot of fun," he said. "I'd rather there be five people here and we had won."

* * *

Carey also noted that a couple of Tennessee players had the habit of heading off the defensive end early in an effort to score. Although he did not identify the players, his disdain for the practice was clear, as several of them occurred in the game's final moments, when the outcome was decided.

"They leaked people out," he noted. "They had a couple of young ladies that kept leaking out and trying to score, but that's o.k."

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