No. 17 Mountaineers can’t maintain halftime lead, fall to UConn 57-51
Published: Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, February 9, 2011 08:02
Mike Carey isn't into moral victories, even after playing No. 2 ranked Connecticut to the final minutes.
The No. 17 Mountaineers couldn't hang on to a two-point halftime lead, allowing the defending Big East Conference Champion Huskies to escape with a 57-51 win at the WVU Coliseum Tuesday.
"It wasn't good enough. We lost," Carey said. "A lot of people said, ‘you only lost by six to Connecticut,' but we lost."
Connecticut senior Maya Moore was too much for West Virginia down the stretch. Moore, who finished with a game-high 27 points, scored eight of Connecticut's final 10 points in the final 5:42.
Moore hit 9-of-20 shot attempts and finished 7-of-8 from the foul line.
"With Maya Moore, you have to pick your poison," Carey said. "They executed their sets down the stretch and we didn't."
West Virginia senior Madina Ali led the Mountaineers with 17 points and eight rebounds, while Liz Repella scored 13 points and recorded five rebounds.
The Mountaineers hung with the Huskies throughout the game. WVU led throughout the first half and took a 29-27 lead into halftime, despite allowing UConn to shoot 52.4 percent from the field.
WVU led by eight, 20-12, with 8:02 left in the first half.
Although West Virginia shot just 36.7 percent from the field in the first half, it forced 12 Husky turnovers and held an 18-12 advantage on the glass, including 9-1 advantage on the offensive end.
West Virginia out-rebounded UConn 37-29 in the game, but allowed the Huskies to shoot 42 percent from the field in the second half while the Mountaineers finished just 5-of-24 from the field after the half.
"We are fortunate to come out of here with a win," said Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma. "Maya just happened to make a couple of plays down the stretch and that was the difference.
"West Virginia's effort tonight was great. One team unfortunately had to lose to learn. They're not going to be happy with moral victories, but I think they'll take something good out of this, for sure."
Connecticut committed just five second-half turnovers after committing 12 in the first half.
But it took just four seconds for Connecticut to tie the game once the second half began when freshman Bria Hartley hit a layup.
Following a pair of missed West Virginia layups, Connecticut's Kelly Faris hit a 3-point shot to give the Huskies a 32-29 lead – its first lead of the game since its 2-0 advantage to start the game.
"We ran a lot of set plays to try to spread them out," Carey said. "We had some good looks, but we just didn't hit them."
West Virginia forced Connecticut into foul trouble early. Connecticut guard Tiffany Hayes, who managed just four points, played only 23 minutes and fouled out with 4:37 left in the game.
Hartley, meanwhile, had four fouls for the majority of the second half.
"We had a great effort tonight and if we had that effort every single night, we can compete with anyone," Repella said. "I don't think our team knows our potential. We have such great potential and we haven't reached it yet."
West Virginia received quality minutes from centers Asya Bussie and Ayana Dunning, particularly in the first half. The pair combined for 12 points and 10 rebounds. UConn center Stefanie Dolson finished with 10 points and nine rebounds. She was the only other player outside of Moore to score in double figures for the Huskies.