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MEC Women’s Basketball Quarterfinal Recap - March 07, 2019

The Free Press WV

Charleston 75, WV Wesleyan 69

Second-seeded University of Charleston started the fourth quarter with a 14-0 run to break open a close game with 10th-seeded West Virginia Wesleyan en route to a 75-69 victory in the quarterfinals of the Mountain East Conference Basketball Tournament Thursday afternoon at WesBanco Arena.

The win was fifth in a row for Charleston and the 10th in the last 12 games for the Golden Eagles who improved to 24-5. UC advances to the tournament semifinals Saturday where it will face third-seeded Concord Saturday at 2:15 p.m. The Mountain Lions (23-6) eliminated sixth-seeded Virginia-Wise Thursday, 76-62.

West Virginia Wesleyan ended its season with a 7-20 record.

“Give a lot of credit to Wesleyan,” first-year Charleston coach Becky Burke said. “We knew they were a team which really plays hard and relies on its effort night in and night out. I’m not going to lie. I was a little bit nervous just because they play hard all of the time for 40 minutes and those teams are usually dangerous.

“Today we got what we wanted out of a postseason game. You want to be tested, you want to have to battle and you want to be able to make a run late which we did. You don’t just want to roll through games and think you’re not going to be tested in the Mountain East Conference and beyond. I’m proud of my team. I thought we battled and I did think we wore them down throughout the course of the game. I also thought we did a good job of staying the course and getting some good defensive stops when we had to have them in the second half.”

UC led 38-28 at the break, but the Bobcats outscored Charleston 23-16 in the third quarter to trim the Golden Eagles’ lead to 54-51 heading into the final 10 minutes. UC, however, opened the fourth quarter with 14 unanswered points in the first 3:05 to push its lead to 68-51 and Wesleyan could simply never recover from that.

“We realized it was either going to be the last 10 minutes of our season or the game and I think we just all knew what we had to do. We had to make a change and we did that with our play in the first few minutes of the fourth quarter,” UC senior guard Raziyah Farrington, who finished with 17 points, four rebounds and four assists, said. “That stretch helped us win the game. Our defense at that point was really good and as a result it led to good offense for us.”

The pesky Bobcats, who handled Charleston’s relentless pressure for most of the game pretty well, didn’t fold though. Instead, Wesleyan answered UC’s impressive start to the final quarter with a 10-0 run of its own to close the gap to 68-61 with 1:55 to play.

“I think for us it was all about our effort,” Wesleyan senior guard Alexa Szelong, who finished with 11 points and a team-high seven rebounds, said. “At halftime we were down by 10, but we came out and just kept closing the gap. Even when they went ahead by a lot there early in the fourth we never stopped battling the whole time.”

Charleston, which shot 45.8 percent from the field (27-of-59) in the win, outscored Wesleyan 42-36 in the paint and held a 23-12 advantage in the game in points off of turnovers.

The Golden Eagles were led by sophomore guard Brooklyn Pannell, who finished with 18 points, five rebounds and three steals. Pannell scored eight of her points in the pivotal fourth quarter. UC also got 14 points and four blocks from junior center Anna Hayton and 11 points and eight rebounds from senior guard Gracie Roberts.

Sophomore guard Brittany Stawovy led West Virginia Wesleyan with 15 points and six rebounds. The Bobcats also got 11 points from junior forward Nicole Gilyard and 10 points and five rebounds from sophomore forward Abi Gabauer.

“I think the girls played well,” Wesleyan coach Vicky Bullett said. “We were going against one of the top-seeded teams and we’re the highest-seeded team and our effort today probably impressed a lot of people, above all me. You play to the whistle blows and I’m proud of them because they did that.

“We got smarter as the season went on and it helped us. We progressed as a team. I like that fact. To me that’s a good sign. We’re a young team. We’re going to lose three seniors, but we’ve got a lot of good kids coming back.”

Charleston and its semifinal-round opponent third-seeded Concord split their regular-season meetings. UC won at Concord 82-57 back on Nov. 28, but the Mountain Lions claimed a 77-71 victory in overtime over the Golden Eagles in Charleston on Jan. 23.


Concord 78, UVa-Wise 62

In a game full of monumental runs, third-seeded Concord proved to have one more in its arsenal than UVa.-Wise during quarterfinal action Thursday at WesBanco Arena. The Mountain Lions held the Cavaliers without a field goal during the game’s final five minutes to pull away, 76-62, for their school-record 23rd victory.

First-team all-conference performer Madison May poured in a game-high 23 points to go along with nine rebounds, six steals – one off the tournament record – and four assists to help the Mountain Lions (23-6) advance to the semifinals, where they will meet No. 2 Charleston at 2:15 on Saturday.

“We started on a mini-run to start the game and Wise (13-16) went on a big-time run in the first quarter,” Concord coach Kenny Osborne said. “Second quarter we went on a daggone run and win the quarter, 23-6. Third quarter we started out with another run about the first six minutes and the last four they went on a run.

“They kind of ran it there to start the fourth quarter on a run and all of a sudden we get some defensive stops and go on one.

“It was just a total team effort.”

Trailing, 25-23, May embarked on a personal 8-0 burst that gave her team a 30-25 lead. Maggie Guynn added a bucket before the Cavalier’s Hannah Oliver ended a drought of 4:25 for the Cavaliers with three of her 11 points.
However, behind four of Andreanna Pool’s 16 total, the Mountain Lions tallied the first half’s final six points to enter the locker room with a 38-28 upper hand. It didn’t stop there as Concord opened the second half with the first seven points to increase the spurt to 28-3 overall.

“Every basketball you play is a game of runs and it’s who can withstand the runs the longest,” Cavaliers coach Jamie Cluesman said. “We were down 20 and battled back, and I can’t give enough credit to the kids. They never gave up and that’s a testament to their work day in and day out in practice.

“There could have been multiple games this year where they folded, but they came back the next day ready to work and we got better.

“If you look from Day 1 to now, we’re a completely different team. Concord just made one more run than we couldn’t withstand.”

Concord built its biggest lead at 54-34 on Keely Lundy’s only basket – a 3-pointer – before Wise was able to find its legs. A 19-3 march that included eight of Ada Stanley’s team-high 21 points and an NBA-range 3-pointer off the left hand of fellow sophomore Hanna Oliver, suddenly made it a 57-53 game with 8:39 left.

“I’d like to compliment Wise and I’m a little biased, to be honest with you,” Osborne said. “Jamie (Cluesman) is one of our great all-time players and she coached with me.

“She got them playing like she played. To beat a hard-fought team like that, I’m very, very excited.’’

Cluesman said the key to rebounding from Concord’s spurts, was simply staying with the staff’s instruction.

“It’s just sticking to our game plan. Just like anyone else we watch a ton of game film and put a game plan in place to give us a chance to win games,” she said. “Down the stretch we were down six and helped ball-side off AP, No. 10 (Pool) and she drained a 3 and that was the dagger right there.

“We had a couple mental lapses but when you’re fatigued, those things happen.’’

Actually, the Cavaliers were trailing by three when Pool hit that 3-pointer that gave her team a 63-57 cushion, and the Mountain Lions finished strong at the end.

“It’s the first time we’ve won a MEC Tournament game,” Osborne said. “I think it’s the first time we’ve won a tournament game (overall) since maybe Eisenhower was in office.

“I’m just excited to get the win. As I told (the players), you come in and win in the afternoon and you can sit back and relax in the evening.”

Concord’s Riley Fitzwater battled foul issues but still managed 12 points, five rebounds and five blocked shots. Tamara Scott came off the bench in Fitzwater’s place and contributed eight points and five boards in 12 minutes.


Glenville State 105, West Virginia State 86

Top-seeded and 18th-ranked Glenville State wasted little time here Thursday evening eliminating ninth-seeded West Virginia State in the quarterfinals of the Mountain East Conference Basketball Tournament at WesBanco Arena.

The Pioneers used a 15-3 run to close out the final 3:34 of the first quarter and open a 28-16 lead and then outscored the Yellow Jackets 9-0 in the last 4:53 of the second quarter to open a 20-point halftime advantage en route to a 105-86 victory.

With the win the defending MEC Tournament champions improved to 27-2 overall. It was the Pioneers’ 18thconsecutive victory and puts them in Saturday’s semifinals at noon against fourth-seeded West Liberty which defeated fifth-seeded Notre Dame College, 84-77, Thursday night.

Glenville won both of its regular-season meetings with West Liberty by double figures.

West Virginia State, on the other hand, closed out its season at 8-22.

The fast-paced, uptempo game established 11 new single-game MEC Tournament records and tied two others. Glenville State set records for most points in a quarter (35 in the third), most field goals attempted (110), most made 3-point field goals in a game (17), most 3-point field goals attempted (56), most rebounds (65) and most steals (19). The Pioneers also tied the record for made field goals in a game (40).

Together Glenville and West Virginia State teamed up to set new single-game tournament records for most combined made field goals (70), most combined field goal attempts (185), most combined made 3-point field goals (24), most combined 3-point field goals attempted (81) and most combined rebounds (118). The two teams also tied the record for most combined points in a game (191).

“I was pleased with the way we rebounded the ball, but I was not pleased with our turnovers (22),” Glenville head coach Kim Stephens said. “I think State did a phenomenal job of speeding us up which is what they wanted to do. The made us play a hair too fast and as a result we had some sloppy, unforced turnovers.

“Now, I did think we shot the ball well and we had good energy for most of the game. It was also one of the best rebounding efforts I’ve seen this group have and that was a key.”

Glenville outrebounded the Yellow Jackets 65-53. The Pioneers got 36 of their 65 boards on the offensive glass and as a result Glenville outscored State in second-chance points in the game, 32-7.

The Pioneers, who surpassed the century mark in points scored for the 17th time this season, took control of the game for good late in the first quarter thanks to junior guard/forward Emily Stoller and junior guard Blaize Burgess. Those two combined for 11 of GSC’s final 17 points in the quarter as the Pioneers opened up a 12-point advantage.

“Give the credit to Blaize for that because I really wasn’t hitting shots in the first half,” Stoller said. “She hit some big shots for us and as a team we stayed focused and continued to have energy both on the court and on the bench.”

Burgess, who canned three of her five 3-pointers in the first quarter, finished with 17 points and three steals.

“We weren’t hitting threes early and I was able to hit a few there for us,” Burgess said. “In warmups I felt pretty good and pretty confident and my teammates just did good jobs of finding me and getting me the ball.”

In the third quarter Glenville continued its hot play and extended the lead to as many as 33 at 69-36 with 4:14 left in the period. Again Stoller was a key to that spurt. She scored 14 of her team-high 22 points in the third quarter.

“Give credit to my teammates for that,” Stoller said. “I had a tough first half and a lot of them came up to me individually and kept encouraging me. As soon as we went into the locker room after the game I stopped each one of them individually and told them I appreciated them telling me ‘You got this. You got this.‘ That lifted my spirits and motivated me there in the third quarter.”

State rallied in the fourth and final quarter and got the lead inside of 20, but could never get it to single digits.

“I take my hat off to Glenville,” State coach Charles Marshall said. “They’re a heckuva team and that’s why they are where they are.

“Today was a tough one for us. I thought we’d come out and play 10 times better than we did, but we didn’t. Still I’m proud of the fight we had for the entire game. We didn’t lay down.”

The Yellow Jackets turned the ball over 32 times Thursday. The 32 turnovers were the second-most for State this season. As a result, Glenville outscored the Yellow Jackets 31-14 in points off turnovers. Twenty one of State’s turnovers came in the first half when Glenville took control of the contest.

“I think we were kind of nervous and uptight at the beginning of the game,” State freshman guard Payton Shears, who led all scorers with 24 points, said. “They sped us up some and we rushed shots. We’re young as a team. We don’t have a ton of experience so tonight was a learning process for us.”

Stoller and Burgess were joined in double figures for the Pioneers by Re’Shawna Stone, who finished with 12 points, Donasja Scott, who chipped in 11 points and grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds and Taychaun Hubbard, who contributed 10 points.

The Yellow Jackets got 14 points from Charity Shears and 10 points from Kalia Cunningham.


West Liberty 84, Notre Dame 77

Playing in her hometown in front of friends and family, Morgan Brunner shot West Liberty into the MEC Tournament semifinals Thursday night. Brunner, a junior, scored a career-high 32 points which included a tournament single-game record-tying eight 3-pointers to help No. 4 West Liberty (21-8) to a victory against fifth-seeded Notre Dame (15-14) at WesBanco Arena.

The Hilltoppers advance to take on No. 1 Glenville State in a noon Saturday semifinal matchup.

“This was a great game for women’s basketball,” WLU coach Kyle Cooper said. “Notre Dame, hats off to them. Our team knows that I hate playing Notre Dame.

“They are blue collar to the core and they’ve got some kids who are straight assassins that can flat-out score. They’re a matchup nightmare for us.’’
That last part aptly described Brunner, who hit one big shot after another to tie the 3-point mark that was set by fellow Wheeling native Emily Puskarich of Fairmont State in 2017. Ironically enough, that also came against Notre Dame.

“It means a lot, especially being here in Wheeling,” Brunner said. “My friends and family came down so this means a lot.

“(My first MEC Tournament) has been a really fun experience so far.”

Brunner’s eighth and final 3-pointer with 4:45 left gave West Liberty a 71-62 lead but much like in the teams’ last meeting when the Falcons rallied from a double-digit deficit before falling in overtime, they weren’t finished.

Seina Adachi, who was brilliant with 29 points, banked in a 3-pointer and Tamia Ridley powered her way to the basket to get it within four. After MEC Player of the Year Marissa Brown scored inside, Adachi converted 1 of 2 at the free-throw line and hit another 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 73-71.

“It wasn’t fun what was going on in my mind (at the time), I can tell you that,” Cooper said. “When we got into the timeout that surrounded that I could see in our kids’ eyes that we were fine.

“They just had that look like, ‘Coach, we got you, we’re closing this and we’re not losing this game.’ Again I think it’s just a testament that these kids fight for everything they earn.’’

West Liberty responded with a pair of free throws from Taylor Johnson, before the Falcons had a wide-open layup rim out on the other end. The Hilltoppers closed out a victory by hitting nine times from the line down the stretch, including a perfect 6 of 6 performance by Brunner.

“It was a battle as expected and I think I saw some good things from my girls, and we can definitely take that with us into next year,” Notre Dame coach Lauren Macer said. “It’s a tough way to end the season but I think it will be some motivation.

“We have to bring our A-game every game in this league. We just have to focus on preparing the best we can for one game at a time.”

Early on it was a back-and-forth contest. The first half featured 13 lead changes. Notre Dame led by as many as seven – 17-10 – in a first quarter that saw it end front, 24-22. However, when Adachi left with two fouls with 5:47 remaining in the half, the tide changed.

Johnson scored to make it 36-34 and the Hilltoppers never trailed again. They held the Falcons without a field goal for the final 4:54 of the half, finishing on a 8-0 run capped by a Brunner 3-pointer to go into halftime with a 42-34 lead.

The margin reached as many as 12 in the third quarter on Brown’s 300th field goal of the season. She finished with a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds. Johnson added 11 while sophomore Audrey Tingle contributed eight points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

Jada Marone backed Adachi with 19 points and Jessie Stout scored 10.

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