The No. 13 West Virginia women's basketball team used a strong second half to defeat TCU, 61-57, Sunday, in front of a crowd of 6,161 at the WVU Coliseum. The attendance ranks as the 10th-largest crowd in women's basketball history.
Sophomore guard Bria Holmes had nine quick points in first six minutes of the second half to give WVU a 40-34 advantage, but TCU used an 8-2 run to tie the game at 42 with 10 minutes left. The Horned Frogs tied the game, twice, from that point, but each time they cut the deficit, Christal Caldwell or Linda Stepney would score to keep WVU on top. The Horned Frogs were within one point twice in the final 2:29. Asya Bussie and Jess Harlee combined for 3-of-4 final free throw attempts hold on to the win.
WVU improved its shooting to 44.4 percent in the second half, with four threes, while the Horned Frogs (14-11, 5-8) decreased to 35.5 percent (11-31) shooting.
"I think it was more of an energy thing in the second half," coach Mike Carey said. "We got back into the game with defense, getting some steals and getting some run-outs. I thought in the second half, we executed a little better on offense. I told the team after the game that we have to quit doing this. We have to come out ready to play for 40 minutes. But it was an overall team effort."
The Mountaineers (22-3, 11-2) made only two of their first 16 shots, finishing the opening half shooting only 29 percent (9-31), while TCU made four threes with 42.9 percent (12-28) shooting from the field. Trailing by as many as 13, 19-6, with just over eight minutes until halftime, the Mountaineers fought back using a 21-9 run to trail by one, 28-27, at halftime.
"It was a hard-fought game. We came out slow and weren't scoring, and we were letting them score. But about midway through the first half, we started playing a little bit and buckling down on defense," coach Carey said. "In the second half, I thought we came out with a lot more energy. I thought Jess (Harlee) and Darius (Faulk) gave us energy."
As a team, TCU recorded 39 percent (23-59) from the field, while WVU shot 36.2 percent (21-58). WVU was limited to only four threes, while the Horned Frogs recorded 8-of-23 (34.8%). The Mountaineers limited their fouls to only 10, allowing TCU just three points (3-3) from the free throw line, while WVU recorded 15-of-22 (68.2%) from the charity stripe.
Three Mountaineers scored in double figures behind Bussie's 16 points. The senior center added eight rebounds, to co-lead on the boards, four assists, three blocks and three steals in 39 minutes. Caldwell added 14 points, with a pair of threes, and three steals, while Holmes chipped in 13 points. Stepney co-led with Bussie in rebounding with eight rebounds, helping WVU to a 40-36 rebounding advantage.
WVU forced 14 TCU turnovers with nine team steals, earning 20 points off TCU giveaways. The Mountaineers limited their own turnovers to nine.
Zahna Medley recorded a game-leading 23 points, including 5-of-8 threes for TCU. Donielle Breaux added 15 points.
The Mountaineers continue play in the WVU Coliseum as they take on No. 12 Oklahoma State at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 19.