Great Danes Tamed

West Virginia shredded Albany's pressure defense in the first half in running out to a 17-point lead, then turned back a determined Great Dane rally to post a 76-61 win in the first round of the NCAA women's basketball tournament in Baton Rouge, La. on Sunday.

Albany came into the contest with the idea of pressuring West Virginia in the half and three-quarter court, but the Mountaineers were prepared for the run and jump pressure tactics. West Virginia passed the ball well to break the traps at halfcourt, and got good shots early in possessions. On those occasions when Albany did recover, West Virginia worked its inside-out game well, moving the ball inside to the post, where it often quickly came back out to open mid-range shooters. The result was a 16-0 run midway through the first half that put the Mountaineers in control at 33-11 with 6:57 to go.

To that point, the Mountaineers had played almost flawlessly. They forced 11 Albany turnovers and forced the Great Danes to call three timeouts during the run, and appeared to be set to cruise to the win.

The second half wasn't nearly as efficient for Mike Carey's crew, however, Three consecutive turnovers and a cold shooting streak in the half's early stages allowed the 15th-seeded Great Danes to cut the deficit to nine points with 13:36 to play. West Virginia pushed the margin back to 14 just before the under eight-minute media timeout, but Albany had one more run left. A 9-0 run cut the Mountaineers' lead to five. but Christal Caldwell's lay-up with 6:33 to go broke the streak and sent WVU on the way to a second-round match-up with LSU.

Caldwell's clutch hoop was just one of a number of big shots for her on the day. She finished with a career high 26 points, providing a great complement to Bria Holmes' 20. With Albany pinching down and doubling on West Virginia's inside game, jump shots were available, and when the Mountaineers took care in attacking Albany's press, open ones were there for the making.

WVU made 42% of its tries from the field, but hit only 5-22 from the 3-point line. It was sharp from the foul line, scoring 25 points on 34 attempts. The Mountaineers were also 9-9 on free throws down the stretch until two meaningless attempts with ten seconds to play went awry.

Averee Fields was the only other Mountaineer in double figures, as she contributed 10 points and seven rebounds to the effort. Asya Bussie grabbed 12 rebounds despite constant collapsing attention on both ends of the floor.

Megan Craig and Sarah Royals kept Albany in the game, with the former scoring 23 points and the latter 14. Just six Albany players scored in the contest, but those that did shoot performed well, hitting 46% of their tries. WVU held America East player of the year Shereesha Richards to just nine points. The Great Danes did leave a number of points at the free throw line, as they made only 14 of their 29 attempts.

West Virginia moves on to face LSU on their home court at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge on Tuesday night at 9:00 p.m. (ET).

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