The Dominion Post  

WVU women fall to Texas in semifinals

Created on:   Sun, Mar 4, 2018   10:11 PM

Last modified:   Sun, Mar 4, 2018   10:11 PM

For The Dominion Post

OKLAHOMA CITY — WVU knew it could be done. Just a year before they had fought all the way from the No. 6 seed to beating three ranked teams on their way to a Big 12 championship.

However, as coach Mike Carey has said often, the 2018 version is a different team than the one that shocked the conference, especially when it comes to depth.

When they took on No. 2-seeded Texas on March 4, in the semifinals of the Big 12 championships, it was those differences that rose up and bit the Mountaineers.

The Longhorns pulled out a 68-55 victory to knock the Mountaineers out of the tournament. Texas advances to face top-seeded Baylor for the title, at 9 p.m. tonight, at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

“I just felt like it was an off day and we didn’t have legs,” WVU’s Naomi Davenport said. “We just kept hitting the front of the rim or the bottom of the net. We were gassed. Just didn’t get our shot up.”

Texas had won both regular-season match-ups with WVU this season. Despite that, the Longhorns knew WVU was not going to make it easy on them.

“Well, it wasn’t the most pleasing to the eye,” said Texas coach Karen Aston. “But I think that’s a reflection of West Virginia really, really playing hard. I knew this game would sort of be like this, just because they were playing with a sense of urgency.”

Yet, it was not a good start for the Mountaineers on both sides of the court.

Whether it was 3-pointers, mid-range jumpers or easy lay-ins, WVU couldn’t buy a basket early on.

Their scoring woes were compounded by their foul trouble they found themselves in enduring in the first quarter. WVU was called for six fouls before Texas tallied a single one. Facing as deep of a team as the Longhorns, that was not the position the Mountaineers wanted to be in.

The only player who found success to start the night was Kristina King. She scored eight points in the first quarter.

However, Texas still held a 24-12 lead.

As WVU continued to struggle to put the ball through the net, the Longhorns were able to get almost anything they wanted offensively. The Longhorns had eight different players score at least two points in the first half as UT held a 42-28 advantage.

The Mountaineers were able to get clean looks at the basket. But the shots just wouldn’t fall. Several of Chania Ray’s 3-point attempts looked like they were going down before they rimmed out.

“We took way too many threes,” Carey said. “I kept saying, 'We’re settling for threes.' I mean, you can’t go 2 for 23 and expect to win a game. Long rebounds, layups on the other side because we kept missing.”

Even though UT didn’t shoot lights out, WVU was just unable to do anything to take advantage.

WVU was unable to make a dent in the Texas lead in the third quarter. The Longhorns kept pounding the paint and wearing down the Mountaineers on the boards.

After trailing by 22 points, WVU was able to cut the deficit down to 13 points with two minutes left in the game. But that was as close as they could get as the Longhorns ran out the clock.

Jatarie White scored 11 points and was the Longhorns leading scorer. However, they had four players in double figures and 11 players who scored at least two points.

“I thought we got a lot of contributions from our bench,” Aston said. “West Virginia is shorthanded and you could probably tell that our bench was the difference in the game because we had more fresh legs.”

Davenport paced the Mountaineers with 17 points and eight rebounds. King finished with 12 points and Ray dished out eight assists to go with her 10 points and three steals.