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Late rally not enough for WVU women

by Tom Canavan

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Freshman Dawn Chriss scored a career-high 13 points and made two big plays in the final minutes as Virginia Tech beat West Virginia 66-60 in the first round of the Big East Conference women's tournament on Saturday.

Ieva Kublina added 14 points as the Hokies (20-8) used an early 18-point run to take the lead and then hold off undermanned West Virginia (15-13).

Fifth-seeded Virginia Tech will face fourth-seeded and No. 24 Boston College in the quarterfinals today.

Kate Bulger scored 17 points and Yolanda Paige had 16 for West Virginia, which has seen coach Mike Carey suspend three players and another quit in recent weeks.

Junior forwards Michelle Carter and Ramika McGee were indefinitely suspended Friday for violating team rules, while sophomore forward Liz Holbrook quit the team. Junior guard Sherell Sowho was indefinitely suspended on Feb. 20.

Carter and Sowho were starters.

Trailing by 18 points early in the second half, West Virginia twice pulled within three points, the second time at 51-48 with 7:53 to play on a layup by Grace Carson, who had career high 11 points.

A layup by Chriss, who had 43 points in 20 games all season, started an 11-4 spurt that a flu-ridden Chrystal Starling capped with 3-pointer with 3:29 to play for a 62-52 lead.

West Virginia scored the next six points and got within 62-58 on two free throws by Paige with 67 seconds to play.

Starling missed a 3-pointer with 37 seconds to play, but Chriss got the rebound. Starling hit two free throws seconds later and West Virginia never threatened again in losing to the Hokies for the third time this season.