Dunning leads West Virginia past South Florida, 55-52
Published: Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Updated: Thursday, February 2, 2012 02:02
Fueled by a powerful performance from redshirt junior center Ayana Dunning, West Virginia was able to hold off a late surge by South Florida and emerge with a 55-52 road victory last night.
Dunning paced the Mountaineers with 15 points and grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds. West Virginia outrebounded South Florida 51-28 for the game. Dunning's offensive output was especially important because redshirt sophomore guard Christal Caldwell was limited to 4-of-19 shooting from the field.
Caldwell, who played 39 minutes, finished the game with 10 points – extending her streak of scoring in double-figures to ten consecutive games.
West Virginia only got a combined 14 points out of junior center Asya Bussie and sophomore guards Taylor Palmer and Brooke Hampton. The trio was averaging a combined 31.3 ppg entering last night's contest.
Freshman guard Linda Stepney finished with nine points – seven of which came from the free-throw line.
The Mountaineers (16-6, 6-3) trailed 25-22 at halftime despite starting with an 11-1 lead. With 17:25 remaining in the second half, Caldwell sunk a pair of free throws to recapture the lead at 28-27. It would be a lead West Virginia would never relinquish, though it didn't always appear that way.
With 4:13 remaining in the game, Caldwell made a lay-up to put the Mountaineers ahead by eleven points – their largest lead of the second half.
After that play, the Bulls' started to make things interesting.
Senior guard Jasmine Wynne knocked in a pair of free-throws and a then converted on a three-point play to get things started.
Wynne netted a double-double in the process of leading the Bulls in scoring. She finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
South Florida went on a 12-3 run over the next 3:09 to close the Mountaineers' lead to just two points with 1:02 to play.
A Stepney free-throw put West Virginia up 55-52 with 23 seconds remaining, and South Florida would turn the ball over on the ensuing possession.
Bussie missed a pair of free-throws with 14 seconds on the clock and the Bulls got one final look for sharpshooting freshman guard Inga Orekhova.
Orekhova, who was the Bulls' only other scorer in double-figures with 10, got off a three-point try with 00:05 left on the clock, but she could not find her mark and the Mountaineers finally secured the win.
Both teams were suspect to poor shooting on the night; West Virginia shot 32.6 percent from the game – just a shade better than the Bulls' 30.2 percent outing. The Mountaineers also had a subpar evening
from the charity stripe, converting on just 64 percent of its tries.
West Virginia turned the ball over 19 times to South Florida's 10. Both teams registered 10 assists, with Stepney's four leading the Mountaineers. With the win, West Virginia extended its all-time lead in the series to 7-1.
The win gives West Virginia some momentum as it heads into a three-game stretch of consecutive top-15 opponents.
The first of those games will come on Saturday when the Mountaineers host No. 14 Louisville. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. at the Coliseum.