The West Virginia women's basketball team used a 42-point second half to defeat Pitt 60-42 in its final regular-season game Monday.
"Give our players a lot of credit. I am proud of them," coach Mike Carey said. "I told them in there that it was an ugly game, but we did what we had to do the second half to win the game. We just have to move on. We can't play that way when we go to the BIG EAST Tournament and we can't play that way when we go to the NCAA Tournament. We know that and we just need to learn from this."
Cold shooting controlled the first half as neither team put away more than six field goals and went into halftime tied at 18-18. Out of the half neither team pulled away until the Mountaineers (21-8, 11-5) went on a 13-0 run, including nine points from the free-throw line, down to the 9:30 mark.
Back-to-back Brianna Kiesel layups allowed the Panthers (8-21, 0-16) to come within 11 with 4:44 remaining, but could not cut the deficit any further as WVU outscored Pitt 11-4 down to the buzzer.
Asya Bussie led the Mountaineers in scoring with 14 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Taylor Palmer chipped in nine points and Christal Caldwell had seven. Ayana Dunning led WVU to a 40-30 rebounding advantage with eight boards.
WVU shot 63.9 percent (23-36) from the free-throw line, while Pitt converted 58.3 percent (7-12) from the charity stripe. WVU improved its shooting from the field to 57.9 percent (11-19) in the second half, amounting to 38.6 percent (17-44) for the game. Pitt was held to 32.7 percent (17-52) from the field for the game.
Kiesel had a game-leading 21 points and Leeza Burdgess added nine points for Pitt. Burdgess also grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.
Bussie and Jess Harlee combined for five team blocks and Harlee grabbed four steals. WVU limited its turnovers to 17, while forcing 22 out of the Panthers. The Mountaineer bench contributed 31 points in the win.
"We were able to get the win and now we will give them off tomorrow and get ready for BIG EAST tournament," Carey said. "Last year at this time with the team that we had, we were worried about getting into the NCAA tournament. This year, at this time, I feel very comfortable that we are in. For this team, losing so many seniors, 80 percent of our offense, you have got to give some of these players credit. We just didn't play well, but we did what we had to do to win the game."
Earning a first-round bye in the BIG EAST Championship, WVU will next play on Saturday, March 3 in the second round at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.