Mountaineers Upset No. 18 Rutgers

  • By Julie Brown
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  • February 15, 2012 10:31 PM
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MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – For the first time in program history, the West Virginia University women’s basketball team has defeated three-straight ranked opponents, upsetting No. 18 Rutgers, 60-50, on Wednesday evening at the Coliseum.

Down by 11 at the 10:40 mark of the first half, the Mountaineers (19-6, 9-3 BIG EAST) had to once again battle their way back to earn the win. They steadily chipped away at Rutgers’ lead to bring the score to 31-24 at halftime, and used a 12-5 scoring run coming out of the locker room to tie the game at 36 with 12:27 left in regulation.

The game remained close after that point, with West Virginia unable to pull away until Brooke Hampton sank a 3-pointer with 2:41 remaining that brought the score to 54-48. The Mountaineers scored their last six points on free throws.

“This was just as important as the Notre Dame game,” head coach Mike Carey said. “Rutgers came down here on a four-game losing streak and was hungry and really punched us in the mouth in the first half. In the second half, we punched back a little bit.

Brooke Hampton hit a big three when the score was close in the second half and put us up six and from there we hit our foul shots down the stretch. That was good to see. I am proud of them and they continue to play hard.”

Christal Caldwell led the Mountaineers in scoring with her 13th straight double-figure scoring game, as she posted 16 points and pulled down seven rebounds in the win.

Behind her, Asya Bussie earned her seventh career double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Ayana Dunning rounded out the top three scorers just shy of her own double-double, with 14 points and nine rebounds on the night.

“Asya (Bussie) and (Ayana) Dunning played extremely well,” Carey said. “Christal Caldwell scored well for us. We just have to take care of the ball a little bit better.”

The Mountaineers shot 37.0 percent (20-of-54) from the field and just 16.7 percent (2-of-12) from beyond the arc. But they were once again accurate from the charity line, converting 69.2 percent (18-of-26).

Defensively, West Virginia was able to shut down Rutgers’ shooting during the second half, after the Scarlet Knights converted 71.4 percent (15-of-21) from the field during the first half. Overall, Rutgers went 42.0 percent (21-of-50) from the field, 30.0 percent (3-of-10) from 3-point range and 55.6 percent (5-of-9) from the line.

“We just lost composure,” said Rutgers head coach C. Vivian Stringer. “We didn’t really execute and move the ball as well as we needed to. Of course the first thing that happened was that both of our posts were in foul trouble. Both of them ended up fouling out. When that happened, they put a little more pressure on our guards and they tried to do a little bit more than they should have. We just should have stayed composed. We are disappointed with that because we have veteran players.”

The Mountaineers also continued their streak of out-rebounding league opponents, with 41 rebounds to Rutgers’ 31. West Virginia has now out-rebounded every league opponent with the exception of Marquette.

The Scarlet Knights (17-8, 6-6 BIG EAST) were led in scoring by center Monique Oliver who had 14 points. She was followed by guard Khadijah Rushdan who had 13 points, guard Erica Wheeler who had 11 points, and forward April Sykes who had 10 points.

“We are playing well now and we need to continue to win,” ended Carey. “We have a big game here with DePaul. They put it on us last year. They put it on us with 20 some points at their place. I told the girls after the game that we have a little bit of revenge. We have to get fired up and get ready.”

West Virginia returns to action on Saturday, Feb. 18 when it hosts No. 24/20 DePaul in a 4 p.m. tip. The game has been designated as the Play4Kay game.

The contest will be broadcast by WVPBS, with live video and stats provided by MSNsportsNET.com.

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