University of Charleston's Tianni Kelly battles Glenville State's Ginny Mills.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The biggest shocker isn't just that the University of Charleston downed regular-season champion Glenville in the third women's quarterfinal of the West Virginia Conference tournament Wednesday. Or that the Golden Eagles held the Pioneers 39 points below their Division II-leading average.
Here is the real shocker: UC went 9 minutes, 8 seconds without scoring a point in the second half and lived to tell about it. Shoot, the Eagles even held on to the lead.
And held it for the rest of the game, winning 65-57. The No. 9-seeded Eagles advance to the semifinals, playing fifth-seeded Seton Hill at 3 p.m. Friday.
Coach Adam Collins' players might need an extra day to recover from a championship-caliber gut check in that second half.
"The nine minutes not scoring deal had been kind of common for us, but the defensive part had not been,"Collins said. "The girls were just extremely active defensively, you could tell from the start. I think, close to the first media timeout, it was 0-0."
Close enough, as Glenville (26-3) scored the game's first basket at the 15:02 mark of the first half. With UC (16-12) shooting 35.5 percent and Glenville 32.4 percent, the lead changed hands five times before the teams went into halftime tied at 28.
And remember, the Pioneers were averaging 96.6 points entering the game, atop the latest Division II statistical ranking by double-digit points.
"They had a great game plan," said Glenville coach Bunky Harkleroad. "They did a great job defensively, caused us a lot of frustration, held us to 33 percent from the field and kept us from scoring the ball, they kept us off the glass and they knocked down shots."
That started with Kali Cuttala's opening basket and a Jessi Cowden 3-pointer. Then Nichole Perry erupted for 11 straight UC points to give the Eagles a 44-36 lead. Three of her five 3-pointers accounted for most of that.
A few possessions later, Kayla Dozier scored on the fast break to give UC a 46-41 lead with 13:37 left. Then came the Dust Bowl-style drought, in which the Eagles missed eight field goals and the front end of the one-and-one, and committing two turnovers.
With its full-court press and smothering traps, Glenville usually inflicts woman-made catastrophe on the opposition. The season scores tell the frightening tale: 119-92, 104-67, 116-63, to make a few.
But with the Eagles trapping for their tournament life, the Pioneers managed a "run" of 4-0, remaining behind 46-45. They went 2 for 13 in that stretch with four turnovers.
"Charleston did a great job," Harkleroad reiterated, with a caveat. "The only thing I'm really disappointed in our team is I don't think we shared the ball enough, we didn't cut hard enough. We were a little complacent. We were lazy, we were flat-out lazy."
And who ended that UC drought? None other than Perry, who buried her fifth trey en route to a game-high 18 points. Cowden followed with another 3, the last of UC's 11, and a Chrissy Keir steal and fast-break basket made it 54-45 with 3:19 left.
Really, Glenville was finished at that point, never getting closer than six points. Keir helped see to that, committing just one turnover against her eight assists. No matter how tough the Pioneers' traps got, Keir and friends solved them calmly.
The Pioneers were forcing 22.6 turnovers per game entering the day and UC committed just 12.
"We've got a lot of stuff on that stat sheet, and other players might be upset if I say this, but Chrissy won that game," Collins said. "She's the one that got us there. I said with about 15 minutes to go in the game that we were going to win, based on her play against the press, making the right decisions.
"And she was phenomenal."
Ginny Mills and Kenyona Simmons scored 11 points apiece to lead Glenville, but combined to go just 9 of 30 from the floor. The Pioneers shot 33.3 percent.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or firstname.lastname@example.org or at twitter.com/dougsmock.