On Saturday, West Virginia State capped its torrid run through the second half of the women's basketball season in about the best way possible - a revenge win over its rival at home on senior day.The Yellow Jackets (13-13 overall, 12-10 West Virginia Conference) pounded Charleston on the glass and used a key 24-2 run in the first half to lock down their ninth victory in 11 games by a score of 78-56.In the process State, which was 4-11 to start the season, locked down the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament and the Jackets will host No. 11 West Virginia Wesleyan at 7 p.m. Monday.UC meanwhile, is banished to Pitt Johnstown for the first round after coming up on the short end of the No. 8 vs. No. 9 game."The thing they're doing, they're just playing so hard," State coach David Smith said of his team. "Getting behind doesn't bother them, they just keep playing hard, playing hard, they keep making mistakes then go back, overcome it, and play hard. They're pretty resilient. They were new, I was new, and it just took some time to get used to what we were doing."True to Smith's words, for most of the game the Yellow Jackets simply outworked UC, as evidenced by the final rebounding totals.State was able to wrestle away 21 offensive rebounds, led by solid outputs by Asia Greenleaf (21 points, 13 rebounds) and Jordan Brock (nine points, 13 rebounds).Eight of Brock's rebounds were on the offensive end, and throw in guard Jasmine Blanton's game-high 25 and five assists points and State was more than able to shut down any potential Golden Eagles run.
In total, Charleston won the rebounding battle 57-31The Jackets were able to accomplish all of this despite the absence of the team's second-leading rebounder Kashauna Cook (7.2 per game), who missed the game with a sprained knee. Her return for the postseason is uncertain at best."We were hurting without Kashauna and somebody had to pick it up," Smith said. "They did a good job. It was one of those things we needed to have done. We need to outrebound them like that."While State has surged as of late, Charleston has gone the other way. Saturday's loss was its fourth in the past six games.Before State's big run, Charleston had a brief double-digit lead of its own at 16-6, but UC coach Adam Collins said losing those kinds of leads has become alarmingly common."This happens to us every game," he said. "We're not tough enough to stop the bleeding and take better shots. Everybody tries to do it by themselves - a 25-point shot, whatever you want to call it. Every game we jump out to a lead or play somebody tight and then build ourselves an eight-or nine-point deficit on a run like that, and then we battle the whole second half to have it fall apart at the end. It's a consistent thing."Nichole Perry scored 16 points to lead Charleston (14-12, 11-11) while Jessi Cowden chipped in 13.
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.