By Mickey Furfari
MORGANTOWN — The West Virginia University women’s basketball team remains in Albuquerque, N.M., for its second-round game in the women’s NCAA Tournament against Vanderbilt.
The fifth-seeded Mountaineers (25-7) and the fourth-seeded Commodores (24-8) will clash in The Pitt at about 10:30 p.m. Monday, or approximately 30 minutes after the 7 p.m. game between Pitt and Baylor ends.
ESPN2 will televise the action.
West Virginia eked out a hard-earned 61-60 win over homestanding, 12th-seeded New Mexico on Saturday night, while Vanderbilt routed No, 13 Montana 75-47 in the opening day’s final matchup.
With all-Big East center Olayinka Sanni sitting out most of the game in foul trouble, Chakhia Cole carried a heavier load to lead the way with 22 points and 11 rebounds. She made a jump shot from near the foul line with 17.5 seconds left for the game-winning basket.
But the Mountaineers still had to survive two missed New Mexico shots under its basket in the final 4.9 seconds.
Coach Mike Carey obviously was happy that his senior-laden team advanced to the second round for a second straight year. He thought the highly vocal crowd made it a great atmosphere, causing a communication problem for the visitors for whom it truly was a road game in every respect.
“The crowd got into it a little bit more when we were behind and got a (questionable) technical foul. Give our girls a lot of credit, they didn’t fold or take quick shots.
“They continued to work, continued to play defense, got back and tied the score back up. I thought they did a great job executing our last two plays coming down the stretch. Give them credit, but also give our girls credit. This is a tough place to play.”
Cole, asked about the shots she made down the stretch, told reporters: “Well, now you know I’m not ready to go home just yet. This is my senior season and you know we are comprised of seven seniors, so nobody on our team is ready to go home.”
She said she knew she had to get the shot up for her last field goal. She had expected that a teammate might break open, but none did.
Vanderbilt is led by Christine Wirth and Liz Sherwood who average 12.9 and 11.0 points, respectively. The Commodores score 71.4 points per game while giving up only 56.2 ppg. They have made 234 three-pointers on the season.
Sanni, 6-2 senior, continues to lead WVU with 16.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per outing. The team averages 70 points per game and is allowing just 56.1. WVU has a school-record 234 three-pointers this year.
The Mountaineers’ total of 25 victories is the second highest in the program’s history. They now are even in NCAA tournament play at 4-4 overall.