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West Virginia and Oklahoma need Overtime to settle the game

WVU / Oklahoma play to overtime in Motown

Morgantown - By David Statman

 

After a blowout win over Kansas earlier this week, West Virginia head coach Mike Carey said that if his team continued to play like they had been, they would be on the opposite end of a late-season disappointment against Oklahoma.

 

And for about 15 minutes on Saturday, it looked like a prophecy that would be well and truly averted. But after squandering a 20-point first half lead – and staging a furious fourth quarter comeback to send it to extra frames – the Mountaineers (19-8, 7-8 Big 12) proved to not have enough in the tank to overcome Oklahoma (14-12, 9-6 Big 12) in a 79-77 overtime loss.

 

Oklahoma center Vionise Pierre-Louis provided a game-winning tip-in as time expired in overtime, handing the Mountaineers a heartbreaking loss that could potentially deal harsh damage to their NCAA chances.

 

“It’s a shame, this is another game we should have won,” Carey said. “You get in foul trouble, you get some people in there that break down your defense and don’t run the offense, and it’s hard.”

 

Behind four first-quarter threes from junior Naomi Davenport, West Virginia rolled to a 30-10 lead and looked as though they were going to run away with the game. However, led by freshman guard Shaina Pellington, Oklahoma managed to continually chip away before finally taking the lead at the end of the third quarter.

 

West Virginia went ice-cold throughout the fourth quarter, and trailing by seven with under a minute left, the game looked cinched. But Oklahoma – who turned the ball over 23 times – nearly fumbled the game away.

 

In the last, desperate minutes of the game, Carey switched his team into a press, which he had not practiced with his team all year, and it paid dividends. After a Katrina Pardee layup made it a three-point game with 30 seconds left, Teana Muldrow stole the inbounds pass, raced up the floor and scored a layup off an assist from point guard Chania Ray.

 

“We were getting beat, we had no choice,” Carey said. “Can’t let them just stand up and dribble the ball and run the clock off. We had to do something, we had to try and win. We went to pressure, and the girls hustled again, playing all those minutes. They showed a lot of heart.”

 

After a pair of Oklahoma free throws, Pardee rolled off a screen and connected on a game-tying 3-pointer to send it to overtime. But while the Mountaineers briefly took a lead in the extra period, they were unable to execute offensively in crucial possessions down the stretch.

 

With the game tied and less than 30 seconds left, West Virginia attempted to run a play for a Davenport dribble-drive – but after Oklahoma denied the ball to both her and Muldrow, a shambolic final possession resulted in an awkward, air-balled floater by Kristina King.

 

“Before they were switching and going on top of me, and they switched it and started denying me more,” Davenport said. “It was alright defense, but we should have had another option.”

 

With 6.8 seconds left, Pellington, who finished with 22 points, raced down the floor and got to the hoop, missing her layup attempt but giving the 6-foot-4 Pierre-Louis the chance to win it with a tip-in.

 

Davenport led all scorers with 24 points. Muldrow contributed her 13th double-double of the season with 23 points and 10 rebounds, while Chania Ray dished out a season-high 12 assists for the Mountaineers.

 

With three games left on the season, West Virginia will look to help secure its NCAA Tournament status on Tuesday, when they next face Kansas State on the road.


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