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WVU women winless in Big East

by Greg Talkington

SPORTS WRITER

MORGANTOWN -- West Virginia's women's basketball team has a recipe for disaster.

Defensive lapses at critical times, long spells without baskets, or points in some cases, and attention span lapses have all contributed to the Mountaineers' 0-6 Big East start.

No. 6 came Wednesday night at the Coliseum as the Mountaineers (11-6) stumbled down the stretch in a 54-50 loss to Seton Hall (11-6, 5-2).

"We work so hard in practice only to come out and do this," Mountaineer point guard Yolanda Paige said. "Why we can't play 40 minutes is beyond me.

"We should have never put ourselves in this position."

After trailing 33-24 at the outset of the second half, WVU responded with possibly its best span of the season.

West Virginia outscored the Pirates, 14-2, to take a 38-35 lead with 10:48 to play.

Then, as if the basketball gods put a cover over the rim, the Mountaineers went 10:01 without a field goal and found themselves down 50-42 with 1:53 to play.

Two free throws by Michelle Carter pulled WVU to within six before Paige finally connected on a short-range jumper made it 50-46 with :47 remaining.

Ten seconds later, Kate Bulger hit two more free throws to make it 50-48.

Carter then hit two more foul shots to make it 51-50 with :23 to play, but Seton Hall's Charlene Thomas hit 3 of 4 foul shots in the final :20 to seal the win.

Thomas led the Pirates with a game-high 15 points.

Bulger led WVU with 14 points, while Carter added 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Latitia Williams contributed 10 points off the bench, while Paige added eight points and seven assists.

"We know we need to come out and play hard and be intense right off the bat, but instead we were slow, soft and flat," Bulger said. "We picked it up in the second half, but you can't expect to win in the Big East playing one good half."

The Mountaineers found themselves down seven (31-24) at the half despite nine points from Bulger and an early outburst by Williams, who scored six of WVU's first eight points.

West Virginia held a 14-11 lead when Paige scored off a drive at the 9:14 mark.

The Pirates responded with a 9-0 run, capped by a pair of LaNedra Brown baskets, the final a 15-footer at the 5:51 mark.

After Michelle Carter connected on a jumper at the 5:36 mark, Thomas responded with two more buckets as the Hall extended its lead to 24-16 with 4:40 remaining.

Bulger fired in a 3-pointer to cut the lead to five, and the teams battled on even terms the remainder of the half.

The Mountaineers have little time to dwell on the loss as they must travel to Notre Dame on Saturday. The Irish won't likely be a kind host either as they are coming off a humiliating 28-point loss at Boston College.

Sports writer Greg Talkington can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at gtalkington@exponent-telegram.com