Big East Women: Strong defensive effort paces Mountaineers

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HARTFORD, Conn. -- The West Virginia women's basketball team does not have a senior, relies heavily on freshmen and sophomores and is extremely limited offensively.

But there is one thing the Mountaineers can do well and that is make it tough on opponents to score ... or get good shots for that matter.

That was evident Sunday night when the Mountaineers defeated De- Paul, 47-41, in a Big East women's tournament quarterfinal to advance to tonight's semifinals against Rutgers. DePaul (21-11) struggled to handle West Virginia's constant pressure and finally cracked with six minutes left to play.

West Virginia made five of its 14 steals in the final six minutes and used the turnovers to break a 36-36 tie with an 11-2 run. The outburst would have been even more productive had the Mountaineers made some free throws.

DePaul shot only 29.5 percent from the field (13 of 44), including 23 percent from the 3-point line (3 for 13) and turned the ball over 22 times.

"It is hard to beat a Top 10 team when you can't score baskets," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. "But as a coach there are two kinds of games when you can't score -- ones you walk out of upset because of bad offense and others where you tip your hat to the other team's defense, and that was the case tonight.

"West Virginia just gets in your grill and rebounds the basketball and they do a great job of switching. They are a great defensive team."

West Virginia coach Mike Carey has often joked that some nights he feels like his team might not score 20 points, but that it would still have a chance to win because of its defense.

And for part of this game it seemed as if the Mountaineers (27-4) were going to try to test that theory because they had a hard time scoring.

"We can't get everyone clicking at the same time, we had bad spacing and our ball movement at times wasn't great," Carey said. "But these kids have done a great job of buying into our defensive philosophy and defense is really just about heart and desire.

"If we have a three hour practice, two hours and 15 minutes we work on defense, though I probably shouldn't say that because it shows on offense -- but our philosophy is win with shot selection, defense and rebounding and that's what we did."

Other games

• Rutgers 63, Georgetown 56: The Scarlet Knights outscored the Hoyas, 12-5, in the second overtime to advance. Chelsey Lee led Rutgers (19-13) with 17 points.

• Notre Dame 75, St. John's 67: Skyler Diggins scored 21 points to lead the Irish (27-4) into the semifinals against Connecticut. Notre Dame lost, 76-71, to St. John's (23-6) in New York Feb. 16.

• Connecticut 77, Syracuse 41: Tina Charles tied a career high with 34 points for the Huskies (31-0). Kayla Alexander scored 11 to lead the Orange (22-10).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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