Asya Bussie and Christal Caldwell combined for a 28 point second-half surge, but it wasn't enough as the West Virginia women's basketball team fell to No. 2 Connecticut 79-60 Wednesday at the XL Center.
The Mountaineers (10-4, 1-1) held the Huskies (12-1, 2-0) to only 37.1 percent (13-35) shooting in the first half, while shooting 44.4 percent (12-27) and went into halftime down 34-27.
Out of the half, a Caldwell free throw brought WVU within six points, the closest it would come since the 8:13 mark of the opening half when it was tied at 18-18 and the closest it would come for the remainder of the game.
"We had a great game plan--we just didn't execute. We weren't moving the ball," coach Mike Carey said. "Our spacing was horrendous against their pressure. We stress defense and I still thought some of our girls played extremely hard. Now if we can get the rest of them to play hard and be a little smarter. With Connecticut you can't give them layups and second shots. We got out of control sometimes. I have to do a better job of teaching our team against pressure and spacing."
Bussie led all players with 19 points, 17 in the second half, and pulled down six rebounds. Caldwell recorded 17 points, with 11 coming from the closing half. Brooke Hampton was the only other Mountaineer in double figures as she had 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting, including a pair of threes.
Ayana Dunning matched Caldwell in leading WVU in rebounding with seven boards each. The Mountaineers were successful in out-rebounding the Huskies 37-35.
Overall, WVU out-shot Connecticut from the field, draining 44.9 percent (22-49) to the Huskies' 43.8 percent (28-64). Connecticut took a slight advantage from beyond the arc, making 20 percent (4-20) to WVU's 15.8 percent (3-19). The Huskies had the true advantage from the charity stripe as they converted 67.9 percent (19-28), while the Mountaineers only achieved 13 points (13-22) from the free throw line.
Turnovers proved costly as WVU turned the ball over 29 times in comparison to Connecticut's 13 turnovers.
Connecticut had five players in double figures with Bria Hartley having 18 points. Kelly Faris chipped in 14 points and also led in steals with six and dished out five assists. Stefanie Dolson pulled down a team-best seven rebounds and had six assists.
"They are a great team," Carey said. "They are well coached. I told them, this is what the BIG EAST is about and we have to learn from this."
The Mountaineers return home for a 7 p.m. matchup on Saturday, Jan. 7 as they continue BIG EAST competition with Villanova.