No. 25 West Virginia knocked out of Big East tournament with loss to No. 3 Notre Dame
Published: Monday, March 5, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 07:03
Revenge was on the mind of the Notre Dame women's basketball team Monday night in Hartford, Conn. After being upset by West Virginia earlier in the season, the Irish clearly looked like a team on a mission.
No. 3 Notre Dame led by as many as 22 points in the first half and never looked back – defeating No. 25 West Virginia 73-45 in the semifinal round of the Big East Conference tournament.
The Mountaineers, the No. 5 seed in the tournament, committed 22 turnovers and shot just 35 percent from the floor, while the top-seeded Irish were 20-23 from the free-throw line.
"I'm not going to make excuses for our team. They just beat us," said West Virginia head coach Mike Carey. "They did exactly what they needed to do. They had more energy. They played harder. They just beat us."
Notre Dame was able to quickly jump out to a 20-4 advantage just eight minutes into the first half.
"We didn't come out ready to play, and they did," Carey said. "And that's what happens when you play a good team."
Irish guard Natalie Novosel led four Notre Dame players in double figures with 18 points. Novosel was 4-4 from the 3-point range.
"We came out here with a little fire in us," Novosel said. "We were excited when we saw we were playing West Virginia. It gave us a chance to avenge our home loss."
For the Mountaineers, junior centers Asya Bussie and Ayana Dunning combined for more than half of West Virginia's 45 points.
Bussie finished with 15 points and five rebounds, while Dunning added 12 points and four rebounds.
Both agreed the early deficit proved too much to overcome.
"We got ourselves down so much at the beginning of the game it was hard," Dunning said. "We were just trying to fight back the entire time."
"We were trying to dig ourselves out of a hole the entire game," Bussie said. "We just didn't defend."
West Virginia was able to cut the lead to 51-35 in the second half, before an 18-4 run by Notre Dame pushed the lead to 30.
"This was a game that everyone should have been prepared for and should have been excited to play," Dunning said. "We came out flat. We didn't come out like we were excited to play."
Despite the loss, the Mountaineers still exceeded expectations this season.
West Virginia was picked to finish ninth in the conference in the preseason poll and was able to reach the semifinal game of the tournament.
"Don't think I'm not proud of these players, because I am," Carey said. "I'm disappointed in today. But, for the whole season, I'm very proud of the players, and they deserve a lot of credit."