CHARLESTON, W. Va. – Tenth-seeded University of Charleston didn’t waste any time taking control of its opening round Mountain East Conference women’s basketball tournament game with seventh-seeded Urbana University here Wednesday afternoon at the Charleston Civic Center.
The Golden Eagles, who never trailed in the contest, raced to a 10-point lead less than seven minutes into the game and never looked back en route to a 68-48 victory.
The win improved Charleston to 13-16 overall and allows it to advance to Thursday’s quarterfinal round where it will face second-seeded Notre Dame College (21-8) at noon.
The loss was the ninth in the last 11 games for UU, which finishes the season with a 12-15 record.
“I want to give credit to my players for playing extremely hard today,” UC coach Adam Collins said. “We were ready to play today after the West Virginia State buzzer-beater deal (a 66-64 loss for UC in its final regular season game). I think we were dying to get on the court and once we got on the court the girls showed they were ready to go.”
Charleston’s stingy defense, which led the MEC this season, made it tough all afternoon on the Blue Knights. UU shot just 35.2 percent for the game from the floor (19-of-54), including a dismal 1-of-15 performance (6.7 percent) from 3-point range. As a result, it also led to the Golden Eagles turning in a dominating performance on the glass where Charleston held a 41-24 edge.
“I felt like we came out flat in the first quarter and it hurt us,” first-year UU Coach Andrea McCloskey said. “We couldn’t get our threes to fall. After that we settled down and started to play a little more aggressive but the ball just didn’t fall our way when we tried to make our runs.
“Charleston did a nice job. They had a good game plan. They doubled us inside on Sylvia (Hudson) and then went to a zone to stop Stefanie (Davis) from driving because she is quick.”
Charleston led 21-7 after one quarter and 31-19 at the half. In the third quarter UU trimmed UC’s lead to eight three times and to seven at 41-34 with 3:27 to play, but every time the Blue Knights made a run the Golden Eagles had an answer.
“It’s been an all-season thing for us,” UC junior guard Abby Watson, who finished with 14 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, said. “It seems that we win three quarters and then in one quarter whether it’s the first, second, third or fourth the other team will go on a run and we’ll have no answer for it. We’ve been trying to stay together, play defense, stay patient on offense so we can end that run or at least answer it and today we were able to do that.”
After UU closed to within seven, Watson scored five of UC’s next seven points to give her team a 14-point lead heading into the final quarter. In the last 10 minutes the Blue Knights never got any closer than 11.
“We went on some runs, but they changed the game by controlling it and slowing it down to stop our momentum,” UU senior guard Danie Shafer, who finished with eight points, said. “That was a good game plan for them. When we got the momentum they changed it and that really put a damper on things for us.”
Sophomore point guard Octavia Loll led Charleston with 17 points. As noted, Watson chipped in 14 points and 12 rebounds for her team-leading fifth double-double performance of the season. The Golden Eagles also got 10 points from Marissa Koob and eight points and eight rebounds from Dionna Sanders.
Davis and Hudson both finished with 14 points apiece to lead UU. Davis also recorded a game-high five steals.