Hampton’s free throws clinch WVU upset over No. 2 Notre Dame
Published: Sunday, February 12, 2012
Updated: Monday, February 13, 2012 10:02
Sophomore guard Brooke Hampton made two free throws with four seconds remaining to defeat No. 2 Notre Dame 65-63 Sunday in South Bend, Ind.
The Mountaineers (18-6, 8-3 Big East) defeated a top-five team for the first time since 2009, when they beat Louisville, and for the third time under head coach Mike Carey. Notre Dame (24-2, 11-1 Big East) was the highest ranked opponent West Virginia has beaten in program history. It was the Irish's first Big East loss of the season and first loss in the last 21 games.
"It's a great win for us," Carey said. "They are well-coached and have great players. With that being said, I thought our players came in here, even though we're young, and got in foul trouble early, and we had to play some players who don't play a lot of minutes, and they did a great job.
"I'm very proud of our team. I thought they came in here with a tough crowd. Nine thousand or more people and a great atmosphere, but our players came in and did a great job."
WVU junior center Asya Bussie led the team with 22 points and eight rebounds, while also going 10-of-13 from the free-throw line.
Bussie scored two straight baskets in the final minutes of the game, including the tying bucket before Hampton's two free throws to end the game.
"Coming into the game, we were focused," Bussie said. "We prepared all week, focused on the scout and did what we had to do to get the win."
Notre Dame junior point guard Skylar Diggins led all players, scoring a career-high 32 points in the game. Senior forward Devereaux Peters led all players with 17 rebounds, scoring four points. But, Peters fouled out of the game with less than two minutes remaining, allowing more room for Bussie to be effective.
Junior center Ayana Dunning chipped in 11 points and seven rebounds alongside Bussie in the post for WVU. The Mountaineers outrebounded the Irish 41-33.
West Virginia was down by 11 points with 12 minutes remaining in the second half, and it looked like the Irish was going to pull away, but a pair of free throws and a layup by sophomore forward Jessica Harlee and a big three-pointer by freshman guard Akilah Bethel got the Mountaineers back within four.
"I told the girls, ‘don't quit,' " Carey said. "I said, ‘I don't care if you foul out, but I better not see you quit playing hard.' Just keep playing like we practice to do and they kept believing, believing, believing. I think our girls deserve a lot of credit to come into this atmosphere and play like we did."
Behind Diggins and Natalie Novosel, who had 16 points, the next highest scorers for the Irish were Kayla McBride and Natalie Achonwa, who both had four points.
The Mountaineer defense could not contain Notre Dame's best player, but did enough to stop the rest of the team in the second half to successfully make the comeback it needed to win.
"We did a good job switching and didn't give them the high-low at times and made them come over the top for the switch. My biggest concern was we were fouling people 50 feet from the bucket and put them at the line. We have to play smarter than that. I think our girls did a great job," Carey said.
WVU redshirt sophomore guard Christal Caldwell finished with 10 points and four rebounds, before fouling out late in the second half. Sophomore guard Taylor Palmer also added nine points, five rebounds and three assists.
Hampton finished with four points, all from the charity stripe.
WVU was outscored 32-16 in the paint and committed 21 turnovers in the game, but managed to get 16 points from its bench.
"We have to build on this," Carey said. "We cannot be satisfied with it. We have five more games to play and a long way to go."