The Dominion Post  

WVU women falter down the stretch vs. Texas

Created on:   Mon, Feb 5, 2018   10:30 PM

Last modified:   Mon, Feb 5, 2018   10:30 PM

The Dominion Post

MORGANTOWN — If 13 straight wins and a top-10 ranking can show the potential of the WVU women’s basketball team, then the final five minutes of the Mountaineers’ 73-55 loss against sixth-ranked Texas, on Feb. 5, showed a dark and sad state of affairs.

Outside of a near three-minute stretch in the first and second quarters, the Longhorns (19-4, 10-2 Big 12) always led, but they completely took the game over in the final minutes, leaving the Mountaineers (17-7, 5-7) to look the part of being an overmatched opponent who was simply taking its beating.

“We quit playing hard and then we came down and took bad shots,” WVU head coach Mike Carey said. “Texas has the mentality and the players to score in bunches. You come down and take a bad shot and don’t get back, they get a lay-up. You come down and get your shot blocked, they get a lay-up. You come down and take a one-on-one shot, they go down and score.

“That’s exactly what happened. It was an eight-point game and we started taking bad shots and quit rebounding and playing defense.”

Trying to pick up a signature win that would propel the Mountaineers back into the national rankings and improve their prospects for a good seed in the NCAA tournament, WVU hung in and trailed, 62-54, after a free throw from Naomi Davenport with 5:12 remaining.

It was a Texas-sized beating the rest of the way, as WVU was outscored, 11-1, in the final five minutes.

“Just staying on task, which is something we’ve had trouble doing on the road, and taking one possession at a time,” Texas coach Karen Aston said on the key to the Longhorns’ run. “We had to forget what was on the scoreboard and stop watching the clock and just play consistently hard.”

Texas’ 6-4 center Jatarie White finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds and she was a mismatch the entire game for WVU, but the Mountaineers also struggled shooting inside the 3-point line.

WVU’s first three baskets of the game were 3-pointers and the Mountaineers went 10 of 20 from 3-point range, but just 9 of 41 (22 percent) inside the arc.

“You go inside and fade away and they block it. It’s real simple,” Carey said. “It’s amazing to me. When I played, if you blocked my shot one time, the next time, I’m going to get an offensive foul or you’re going to get a foul. I’m not going to keep fading away and let you block my shot.

“We’re just not aggressive enough in attacking. We don’t turn the corner enough. Here’s an idea: Maybe ball fake once in a while.”

The bottom line is WVU has lost three straight and is struggling again in Big 12 play for the second consecutive regular season.

The Mountaineers fell out of the AP Top 25 poll this week and are struggling to hold on to any type of good seed for the NCAA tournament.

“I was just thinking about that in the locker room on how this reminds me so much of last year,” said WVU point guard Chania Ray, who finished with eight points, five rebounds and four assists. “It shouldn’t really get to that point. We shouldn’t lose close games. We need to learn how to be a better team at the end of games.”

Last season, WVU went on a magical run and won the Big 12 tournament.

“We did it last year and we can do it this year,” Ray continued. “Unfortunately, we waited a little too long, so now everything counts and everything matters at this point. We can do it. We just have to stick together.”