On February 12th, Mike Carey and his Mountaineers went into South Bend and upset second-ranked Notre Dame. On March 5th, the Irish got their revenge.
In the semifinals of the Big East Championship, #3 Notre Dame (30-2, 15-1) dominated the Mountaineers (23-9, 11-5) from the opening tip, ultimately coming away with the 73-45 victory.
West Virginia was ice cold from the field and had a tough time protecting the ball early on in the game. Notre Dame, on the other hand, hit seven of its first 12 shots while committing just two turnovers. That stretch led to a 20-4 Irish lead just eight minutes into the game, and a deficit like that is not easily erased against any team, let alone a team like Notre Dame.
WVU did find some offense toward the end of the opening half, but the Irish still took a 37-19 lead into the break.
That margin proved to be more than sufficient for the Irish, as they cruised through the second half. At one point, the Mountaineers did go on a run to bring the deficit to 16, but there was never really a threat for the lead, and Notre Dame stretched that lead back to 30 before the game was over.
Despite the loss, it was another strong offensive performance by Asya Bussie. The junior led the team for the season with just under 13 points per game and put up 15 in Monday night's game. Ayana Dunning added 12 for the Mountaineers.
Big East Player of the Year Skylar Diggins had a solid performance with nine points and six assists, but four Irish players reached double digits, including Natalie Novosel, who led with 18. The Irish did see their field goal percentage drop in the second half, but they hit six threes to WVU's one, and that helped them keep the comfortable cushion.
Notre Dame will await the winner of the Connecticut/St. John's game, which is played directly following the first game. The Irish beat UConn twice this season, including an overtime win back in January, and won their only matchup with St. John's. The championship game will be played on Tuesday at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast by ESPN.
For the Mountaineers, there's nothing left to do but wait for their postseason fate. While the blowout loss at the hands of Notre Dame surely hurts, they can take solace in the fact that they were able to crack the AP Top 25 this week, and should have a secure place in the NCAA Tournament. The first round of that tournament will begin on March 17th.