Women Remain Winless in Conference

The West Virginia women's basketball team knew that after Wednesday's scare against Marshall, they'd have to sharpen their rebounding skills in practice and find a way to dodge the cold spells that have plagued their entire January schedule.

They did just that, to an extent, but that extent wasn't enough to overcome 25th-ranked Boston College as the Eagles sneaked away with a 69-61 victory last night in Boston.

West Virginia found itself getting off to its typically slow start, falling behind 7-2, but Liz Holbrook sparked a Mountaineer rally with four straight points to bring the score to 7-6. From there, the Mountaineer fortunes only got better - nearly every player wearing blue that saw time in the first half got on the board at least a couple of times.

West Virginia took its first lead at 8-7 on a basket by Kate Bulger with 14:45 left, and West Virginia outscored the Eagles 19-12 over the next 10 minutes. West Virginia's defense in that stretch was able to hold the much bigger, more physical Eagle post players Becky Gottstein and Kim Mackie to a total of two points during that stretch.

Then, it happened - the last official timeout was at 3:58, and the cold snap was brewing. West Virginia took a 29-23 lead on a Holbrook basket coming out of the timeout, but the BC post players started to come alive. Gottstein and Mackie combined for seven points to lead the Eagles on a 7-3 run to make the halftime score 32-30 in favor of the Mountaineers. West Virginia had several good opportunities in the final minute to run some clock and led by five with a minute to go, but unforced mistakes on hurried plays brought out the ice, leaving Mike Carey to wonder what the second half would bring.

As usual, the first five minutes of the second half would prove crucial for the Mountaineers. And, as has been the case this month, they went cold, and the Eagles got red hot. West Virginia managed to stretch their lead to 37-33 quickly after BC took a 33-32 lead on an Amber Jacobs three-pointer, but that wouldn't be enough to stop the Eagles' perfect 5-5 shooting and the Mountaineers' dreadful five turnovers in the first four minutes. BC took a 42-37 lead that it would not relinquish going into the first official timeout.

But, it wasn't like the Mountaineers didn't have thier chances. The cold snap stopped there (more quickly than any other game this season), and West Virginia ran with BC for the rest of the game, and was able to close the score within two or three several times before BC used free throws at the end to take the eight point win.

Coach Mike Carey decided coming into the game that he would do a little more shuffling with his lineup than he has usually done this season. Liz Holbrook saw her first career start as a Mountaineer and more playing time was seen for Janell Dunlap and Latitia Williams in an effort to find some more rebounds. That strategy did work, and actually helped to add some offensive contributions that were unexpected. The Mountaineers out-rebounded the Eagles, 40-38.

West Virginia had a balanced offensive scorecard last night, led by Yolanda Paige with 12 points on 5-10 shooting, seven assists and a surprising team-high six rebounds. Despite an awful night shooting, Kate Bulger wound up with 11 points on 5-19 shooting, most of those points coming in the final five minutes of the game, after starting with a 3-15 performance.

Michelle Carter and Liz Holbrook each had ten points and five rebounds, with Carter winning the percentage battle on 5-7 vs. 5-10 shooting but losing the turnover battle, 7-1.

Sherell Sowho, with early foul trouble, managed nine points. Latitia Williams came off the bench for five points and five rebounds, and Janell Dunlap had a mirror image day with four points and four rebounds.

Boston College was led by Becky Gottstein, who exploded in the second half to score 22 points and grab 14 rebounds, and Jessly Deveny, who scored 17.

West Virginia falls to 11-5 and 0-5, the only team remaining in the Big East without a conference victory. Their next chance comes at home this Wednesday against Seton Hall, who has a 9-6 record after defeating Providence yesterday. Boston College advances to 13-4, 5-1.

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