UMKC hopped out to an early 2-0 advantage on a pair of free throws by Randi Meissner, then used a three pointer from leading scorer Katie Houlehan to take a 5-4 lead after back to back field goals by WVU's Michelle Carter. Fortunately for West Virginia, that would be the only score of the day by Houlehan, who averaged 15 points per game going into today's contest. The 5-4 lead would be the last for the 'roos as West Virginia would tak a Kate Bulger three for a 7-5 edge and not look back.
It may have sounded easy at the time, but it really wasn't. This was the worst game the Mountaineers played all year, almost down to the ability of their opponents. I'd call it a combination of too much holiday turkey, poor officiating from a no-name conference, lackadaisical ball handling, lack of hustle on the defensive boards, and lack of help from the bench.
Do I sound negative? Probably, but I don't think many on the team would disagree. Let's give UMKC some credit - they played their hearts out and did not give up. But, this is a 4-6 team that was ranked one of the "worst ten" by womenscollegehoops.com. The Mountaineers were only able to manage a 28-21 lead at halftime, only two worse than their largest of the half, after holding the Kangaroos to 29% shooting.
The second half played out much like the first, with West Virginia managing to stretch the lead to 38-25 after a pair of Kate Bulger field goals. The Kangaroos sprang back with six points from Kristin Kenton to help close the lead to 41-35. The game stayed there for the next seven minutes, pulling as close as 48-43 with less than three minutes to go before West Virginia was able to take control and pull away with a 7-0 run to close the game.
The telling stats of the game, in my opinion, cae in turnovers and offensive rebounds. The Mountaineers turned over the ball 20 times, to 15 for UMKC. The Kangaroos were able to pull down 17 offensive rebounds, allowing them to shoot the ball 65 times (hitting 19) to West Virginia's 48 shots (hitting 21).
Evening out the score, besides the shooting percentages of 44% to 29%, was the three-point and free throw shooting. Kate Bulger buried four of five threes and WVU made nine of 12 from the line, compared to 3-17 and 2-2 for UMKC.
Kate Bulger was the game for West Virginia. She shot 10-14 for the game to finish with 26 points, bringing her career total to 999. Also, Kate committed only one turnover in 38 minutes of play. She was the only player in the game to score in double digits.
West Virginia also saw scoring contributions from Michelle Carter, who scored eight points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Sherell Sowho had eight points and five blocks, though shooting only 2-12 from the field.
Yolanda Paige continued to dish it out (without having to take it from the other team) with five points and ten assists. Eartha White had four points and nine rebounds. Liz Holbrook also had four in limited action.
UMKC was led by Randi Meissner and Carlai Moor, who each had eight points.
West Virginia now takes a brief break for the New Year's holiday before starting Big East play against nationally-ranked Notre Dame a little over a week from now in the Coliseum.