The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

March 1, 2011

WVU gets crucial win, tops Storm

MORGANTOWN — That this was a different West Virginia women’s basketball team was obvious from the tip of what would become a crucial 69-49 victory over St. John’s at the Coliseum on Monday night.

It was a desperate team, a determined team, a proud team finally coming together on Senior Night, putting aside seven losses in the last nine games to wrap up the regular season with a 22-8 record, 8-8 in the Big East.

They did it by bullying a 20-win St. John’s team.

“West Virginia was fighting for their lives,” St. John’s coach Kim Barnes Arico said.

Indeed, they were.

They want to win the NCAA Tournament, but first there was a matter of getting to it and had they lost this game, had they finished losing eight of their last 10 games and with a 7-9 record in the Big East, they might not have had the chance to even play in the NCAAs.

With five seniors — Liz Repella, Sarah Miles, Korinne Campbell, Madina Ali and Vanessa House — back from a 29-win season last year, this had become a dismal season.

“Our season was filled with a lot of disappointing losses, but you can’t dwell on that — especially now. Going into the Big East tournament, and on to the NCAAs, we can’t dwell on that. We have to take this win and build on it. It’s not over yet,” Repella said.

It is not over because they wouldn’t let it die on their home court in their final home game.

“We still need to go to the Big East and win one or two,” Coach Mike Carey said. “I’m not putting all our eggs in the Big East tournament. My most important thing, and we kind of hurt ourselves with our seeding now because our seeding won’t be as great as we want it to be, but we need to focus on the Big East tournament and the NCAA, if we get in. We have to make some noise and start playing a little better.”

They weren’t great in this game, but they were more than good enough.

Repella led the way with 22 points, nine rebounds, two assists and three steals. Miles ran the show and attacked the rim, finishing with 16 points and five assists.

Most important, however, was that Campbell now has become an offensive force, scoring 13 points and grabbing seven rebounds.

A year ago she had been a double-figure scorer but this year she had reached double figures in only four of the first 28 games.

Then, almost out of nowhere, against Rutgers in the Mountaineers last game, she scored 14 and added her 13 in this one.

“It’s good to have her playing again,” Carey said. “It’s good to have her scoring because it gives us another option on offense. If we can get her going, Sarah going, Madina going and Liz going, and Asya (Bussie) and them inside, then we can score some points.”

Points had been at a minimum, perhaps because he had emphasized defense too strongly.

The Mountaineers went to the locker room at halftime with a 30-24 lead, then put it away in the second half with a smothering defense and a lot of offense.

WVU with the victory has gotten a 10th seed and play Friday night in Hartford, Conn., against Cincinnati, a team they smothered 72-44 in their only meeting this year.

E-mail Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com.

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