NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — A yearlong problem came back to burn West Virginia in the NCAA tournament.
Offensively challenged and defensively stout, the Mountaineers couldn’t overcome their scoring troubles in a 72-55 loss to top-seeded Stanford in the second round of the women’s NCAA tournament.
“We took more shots that they did. We just didn’t make them,” Mountaineers coach Mike Carey said after his team, which shot 40 percent for the season, converted just 31 percent (19-61) against the Cardinal.
“We took 18 3s,” he said. “A lot of them were wide open.”
They made four.
The loss kept West Virginia looking for that breakthrough victory. They have won all six of their first-round games under Carey, but still haven’t gotten past the much better competition in the second round.
But that day is coming, said junior center Asya Bussie, who along with co-center Ayana Dunning provided a hi-low post game that gave the Mountaineers their most effective offense late in the year.
Dunnin led the way Monday night with 14 points, and Bussie had 11.
“We proved a lot of people wrong that we are a great team,” Bussie said, “and we just lose one player, and I think this summer will be big for us and next season will be a really big season for us.”
Amber Orrange scored a career-high 18 points, Nnemkadi Ogwumike added 16 points and Chiney Ogwumike finished with 13 for the top-seeded Cardinal (33-1), who easily stretched their school-record winning streak to 30 games. Orrange, a freshman point guard, also had seven rebounds and five assists.
The Cardinal were leading 16-12 when Nnemkadi Ogwumike’s two free throws sparked a 17-0 run with about 11 minutes left in the first half. West Virginia went more than six minutes without scoring and trailed 33-14 when Dunning finally broke the drought with a 15-foot jumper.
Stanford remained in control for the rest of the game
The only bright spot for the Mountaineers during the big run by Stanford occurred when Nnemkadi Ogwumike, a national player of the year contender, picked up her second foul and went to the bench. But when she did, Orrange got aggressive, hitting a jumper and a driving layup on the next two possessions for the Cardinal, who carried a 38-21 lead into halftime.
Ogwumike went back to the bench after drawing her third foul with 16:08 to play and the Cardinal ahead 44-26. Ogwumike’s absence slowed Stanford’s offense, but West Virginia missed 10 of its first 12 shots after halftime, including several open looks, and only started converting in the waning moments.
Stanford advances to the Fresno Regional, where it will be seeking a fifth straight trip to the Final Four.