WHEELING — It’s never easy to beat the same team three times in one season. It wasn’t easy for Notre Dame College’s women’s basketball team to accomplish that feat against the University of Charleston. But the Falcons were able to pull it off.
Turnovers and poor shooting doomed the Golden Eagles as they fell to NDC for the third time this season, suffering a 73-66 setback to the Falcons Saturday in the Mountain East Conference tournament semifinals at WesBanco Arena. Now the Falcons get to enjoy what UC earned last season — a spot in the MEC title game. Notre Dame faces Glenville State at 2 p.m. Sunday for the crown. Glenville State edged Concord 70-68 in the other semifinal.
The end to Charleston’s run came when Notre Dame went on a 14-0 run between the third and fourth quarters. After spending much of the game in a dogfight with Notre Dame — and with Dakota Reeves’ 3-pointer cutting NDC’s lead to 46-41 with 90 seconds left in the third — the Falcons sprinted away over the next two-and-a-half minutes of game time.
The next thing the Golden Eagles knew, they were down 60-41.
“It was miscommunication, and that’s been the story all year,” UC coach Becky Burke said of the scoreless streak. “When we don’t talk, we pay for it. Again, it’s youth. ‘Oh, coach, we’ve got time.’ No, you don’t. It’s win or go home.
“Miscommunication, offensive rebounds, a couple of turnovers, again, those are things you see from a really young team.”
Even with that deep of a deficit, UC didn’t roll over. As the fourth quarter wound down, Charleston went on a run of its own. With Brooklyn Pannell’s layup with 28 seconds left, UC trailed just 69-64. But the Falcons were able to hold off the Golden Eagles by going 4 of 6 from the free-throw line in those final 28 seconds.
“I think we played smart at the end,” Notre Dame senior guard Seina Adachi said. “Charleston’s a good team and we had to play smart. We knew they were going to foul us at the end and I think we did a good job hitting free throws.”
The first and third quarters were shooting performances the Golden Eagles would rather forget. UC and NDC were tied at 11 at the end of the first, despite Charleston making just 3 of 12 from the floor. When Notre Dame started its run in the third, Charleston wasn’t helping itself, making just 3 of 15 from the floor. UC also had 16 turnovers that Notre Dame turned into 21 points.
UC senior center Anna Hayton finished the game with a team-high 19 points, but much of that came in the first half. She had 13 points after the first two quarters, but wasn’t finding the same opportunities after halftime.
“Every time we’ve played Notre Dame, they’ve been pretty consistent with the way they’ve tried to guard me,” Hayton said. “They try to double me and triple me every time I catch the ball, which is a good, which is a good game plan. They didn’t switch anything up. It’s just a solid way to go about it.”
Pannell added 14 points for Charleston, while Reeves scored 12 and hit 4 of 6 3-pointers. Erykah Russell scored 11 points with 13 rebounds. Adachi led all scorers with 20 points.
Glenville State 70, Concord 68: The Mountain Lions gave the Pioneers everything they could handle, but Concord’s shot at upsetting the tournament’s No. 1 seed drowned in a tidal wave of 31 turnovers.
Concord held a 36-30 halftime lead over Glenville, but the Pioneers were able to outscore Concord 24-14 in the third and hold off the Mountain Lions in the end.
Blaize Burgess led Glenville with 18 points, while Zakiyah Winfield scored 16. Riley Fitzwater led Concord with 21 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks.