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Ice-cold Hoyas fall in Big East quarterfinals

- Associated Press - Sunday, March 4, 2012

HARTFORD, Conn. — West Virginia coach Mike Carey looked at the stat sheet and shook his head in disbelief. His Mountaineers had just scored a season-low 39 points and somehow were advancing to the Big East tournament semifinals.

"It wasn't a pretty game needless to say," Carey said, chuckling. "We just tried to survive that game. I want to give our girls credit. We didn't get shook up, continued to play defense and didn't let our offense affect our defense."

Taylor Palmer scored all 11 of her points in the second half to help West Virginia beat No. 12 Georgetown 39-32 on Sunday in the Big East tournament quarterfinals.

The offense was anemic at best. The Mountaineers shot 25 percent from the field and 38 percent from the free throw line. Still, their defense was able to hold the Hoyas to even worse numbers. Georgetown shot 15 percent, missing 58 of its 68 shots.

The teams combined for the fewest points scored in a Big East tournament game. They easily broke the previous mark of 87 set in 2002 by Rutgers and Virginia Tech that was matched three years later by St. John's and Seton Hall.

"It's mind boggling because we didn't hit shots," Georgetown coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. "I knew we'd win the game with them shooting like that if we would just finally it some shots."

The Hoyas (22-8) just never did.

Sugar Rodgers, who led the team with 14 points, missed 15 of her 20 shots. The rest of the team was a combined 5 for 48.

"I thought we got open shots," Rodgers said. "We just couldn't put the ball in the basket."

The Mountaineers will play the winner of Notre Dame and DePaul in the semis Monday night.

Leading 21-18 with 14:39 left, West Virginia used a 14-6 run to take control Palmer hit three 3-pointers during the spurt, including one with 6:56 left that made it 34-24. That was the Mountaineers' (23-7) final basket of the game.

"The biggest thing was confidence," Palmer said. "I started losing my confidence at the end of the season because I wasn't hitting my shots. My teammates had confidence in me and I came out today and took my shots."

Rodgers hit a 3-pointer and Adria Crawford added a jumper to make it 35-29. The Hoyas couldn't get much closer despite West Virginia's best effort to let them.

The Mountaineers missed seven of 10 free throws in the final minute but the Hoyas couldn't capitalize on the other end.

"We want to make it interesting at the end," Carey deadpanned. "We missed about 10 foul shots."

West Virginia held a 15-12 lead at halftime as the two teams struggled on offense for the first 20 minutes. The Mountaineers shot just 21 percent while Georgetown was 11 percent, missing 31 of its 35 shots. Rodgers made 3 of 11 shots, the rest of the Hoyas were 1 for 24.

It was the second-lowest scoring first half in Big East tournament history, barely surpassing the Notre Dame-Villanova game in 2003 that was tied at 13 at the half.

This is West Virginia's final time in the Big East tournament before leaving for the Big 12 next season.

''Needless to say, I love the Big East, always did. When I first got a job at West Virginia, I was so excited to coach against the great players and great coaches, see places I've never seen before," Carey said. "I've made a lot of friends in the coaching community. We are going to the Big 12 and I'm looking forward to that challenge, but definitely will miss the Big East."

 

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