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January 26, 2014

WVU women drop first road game

AUSTIN, Texas — The No. 18 West Virginia women’s basketball team dropped a 66-63 game at Texas, who remains undefeated on its home court this season, Saturday.

The Mountaineers (17-3, 6-2) outscored the Longhorns (13-6, 4-3) 30-26 in the closing half, but Texas made a crucial 9-1 run from the 7:49 mark down to the 2:50 mark, erasing WVU’s largest lead of the half (61-56) and taking a 3-point lead, 65-62. The Mountaineers missed five field goal attempts and a pair of free throw attempts over the final 2:26.

“Texas played harder than we did the first half. We stood around and it cost us down the stretch. We had opportunities and took some bad shots,” coach Mike Carey said. “Give them a lot of credit. They played hard.”

WVU improved from shooting only 36.7 percent (11-30) from the field in the opening half to 44.8 percent in the second half. WVU closed the game shooting 40.7 percent from the field, 28.6 percent from 3-point range and 61.1 percent (11-18) from the free throw line. Texas shot 42.9 percent (24-56) from the field, 44.4 percent (4-9) from beyond the arc and 73.7 percent (14-19) from the free throw line.

WVU used a 10-0 run out of a 40-33 halftime deficit, including back-to-back 3-pointers from sophomore guard Bria Holmes to take a three-point lead. The game went back and forth with neither team pulling away by more than three until WVU pulled out to five, twice, before UT’s final push.

Holmes led all players with 18 points and three steals, while junior forward Averee Fields had 12 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals.

Seniors Christal Caldwell and Asya Bussie played limited minutes due to foul trouble in the opening half, as Caldwell only played six minutes and Bussie had 11, combining for four points. Bussie finished the game with nine points, while Caldwell chipped in eight. Junior Crystal Leary led WVU’s bench players with six points.

The Mountaineers were outrebounded 46-27. UT gained 11 second-chance points to WVU’s four, but WVU had 18 fast break points to UT’s two. The Mountaineers earned 19 points off 20 Texas turnovers, while WVU turned the ball over 10 times. The loss put a stop to WVU’s three-game win streak and was its first road loss of the season.

Three Texas players were in double figures with a double-double of 15 points and 21 rebounds from Nneka Enemkpali, 14 points from Brady Sanders and 11 points from Nekia Jones.

“She (Enemkpali) played hard. She plays as hard as anyone I’ve seen in the Big 12,” Carey said. “She was all over the place. We had a couple down the stretch where we had her beat going in for the layup and she blocked us from behind, so give her a lot of credit; she plays really, really hard.”

WVU returns home for a 7 p.m. matchup on Wednesday, Jan. 29 with Iowa State at the WVU Coliseum. When the teams met earlier this season, WVU took a 73-59 win from then-No. 13/11 Iowa State in Ames.

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