BATON ROUGE, La. — What began as a runaway for the West Virginia women turned into a second-half test against No. 15 seed Albany.

That’s when senior Christal Caldwell put the upset on hold.

With her team’s 22-point lead whittled down to five, Caldwell scored back-to-back buckets and the second-seeded Mountaineers regrouped during the final seven minutes for a 76-61 victory.

Caldwell scored a game-high 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting and heavily favored West Virginia (30-4) survived its first-round NCAA matchup against the Great Danes (28-5).

Bria Holmes contributed 20 points despite making only 1-of-12 from 3-point range, and Averee Fields pitched in 10 points and seven rebounds for the Mountaineers, who lost some aggression in the second half.

“We started off the game great, and we were passing the ball well and we had a lot of high energy,” Fields said. “But when halftime came we just came out lackadaisical.

“We’re just glad we got the win. We’re glad we took care of business.”

Albany’s 6-foot-9 center Megan Craig was a force with 23 points and her defensive presence limited Asya Bussie to only three points on 1-of-5 shooting. Despite a quiet day scoring, Bussie grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked three shots.

“They had the big girl inside, so we didn’t too much inside,” said Bussie, who had never faced so large a post player. “I wasn’t going to block (Craig’s shots), so I just put my hands straight up and tried to make the shots difficult for her.”

Leading 33-11 midway through the first half, West Virginia appeared to be on an easy path to Tuesday night’s second-round showdown against LSU. A 16-2 run—most of it accomplished while Craig sat on the bench with her second foul—had the Mountaineers humming.

“I was just itching to get back out there as quick as I could,” Craig said. “But I knew I couldn’t afford to get into any more foul trouble, particularly in the first half.”

Once Craig returned, it was WVU that encountered trouble. Albany methodically climbed back into the game, and when Craig sank a jumper with 7:03 left, the margin was down to 56-51.

“We just started passing the ball back-and-forth instead of attacking (Albany’s press),” said WVU coach Mike Carey. “We got lazy with our passes instead of attacking it and throwing it over the top and getting two-on-ones.”

The Danes had a chance to cut it to three points when Bussie blocked Sarah Royals’ layup leading to another Caldwell basket.

The teams combined to miss their next seven shots before Caldwell’s jumper stretched the lead to 60-51 with 4:29 remaining. From there, WVU made 13-of-17 free throws to put away the Danes.

Albany’s Shereesha Richards fouled out with four minutes left after scoring only nine points, 11 below her season average.

“Having Shereesha and Megan in foul trouble was the difference in the game,” said Albany coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson. “We had to change out a lot of stuff and look to some other players to get points. We just couldn’t get over the top once we got it down to five in the second half.”

Next up comes a game against home-standing No. 7 seed LSU on Tuesday, where a win would send West Virginia’s women to their first Sweet 16.

“Nothing against Albany, but if we play like that LSU will beat us,” Carey said. “There’s no doubt we’ll play better on Tuesday night.”

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Comments

  • Rick55

    In truth, I doubt if the women really care much what you call them as long as you call them winners ( and show up for their games).

  • Rick55

    Until we start calling the men's team " The Gentlemen Mountaineers", I'll stick with "the women's basketball team" or just plain ole "Mountaineers". Go Mountaineers!!!!!!!

  • Ike

    Nice job girls. Play to your full potential each and every time, not to your competition. Let's put the pedal to the metal and go on a five game run. You can do it. We believe. Lets Go Mountaineers. Nice game Christal.....who's next!

  • Mountaineer Fanatic 44

    Why would calling someone a lady make them seem unusual or peculiar? Maybe they are called lady Mountaineers for the same reason women in the Marines are called lady Marines. Of course they are Mountaineers and really good basketball players.
    This year the ladies happen to be our best team and I for one am very proud of them.
    I have them down as the winner of the entire bracket. LETS GOOOOOOO MOUNTAINEERS!!!!!!!!

  • jay zoom

    LETS FACE IT (Haslette) THEY ARE THE LADY MOUNTAINEERS check across the nation (lady vols - lady tigers - and a host of others) . (Aaron - Luck is not going to bid for these games the jerk is to busy ripping off the Mountaineer faithful on the mens programs). (way to go captain Q you said it all) LETS GO LADIES grab the tigers by the tail and never let up WE ALL LOVE YOU LADIES

    • Uncle Unctuous

      That's right, check across the nation at the names of other teams to determine what is the name of your university's team. Does it work the same way with the university itself? Let's try: University of Virginia, University of Kentucky, University of North Carolina, and a host of others. I guess it must be the University of West Virginia!

      Silly people are silly.

      But seriously, try checking the WVU athletic department's official web site for the word "Lady". It isn't there.

      • Allan Taylor

        Most athletics departments shifted away from identifying their women's teams as "Lady anythings" in the 90s, feeling it created more synergy with the men's tems. A few, however, like Tennessee's Lady Vols or Oklahoma State's Cowgirls, have opted to keep their gender-specific nicknames.

  • Dave

    Congratulations Lady Mountaineers. Now, let's take care of LSU.

    LET'S GOOOOOOOOOOOO MOUNTAINEERS !!!!!!!!!!!

    • Dr. Stephen Haslette

      Not trying to make things difficult, by why are you referring to them as "lady" Mountaineers? Last time I checked, Mountaineers were Mountaineers. Being of the female gender doesn't serve to disqualify their success by casually dereferencing their status of something "unusual" or "peculiar" to the norm.

      I guarantee you they work as hard, or harder, than their male counterparts.

      Great job MOUNTAINEERS!!!! We're proud of you MOUNTAINEERS!

      • GF

        Why do you put Dr. in your name? Are you implying that you are above the rest of us? That we don't work as hard as our learned Doctoral degree holders?

        Your comments above are ridiculous - we don't need the morality police here.

      • WV Grad

        Get serious, doc.
        Go gals, you great ladies!

      • WrongWayCorgan

        I agree with you Haslette, rarely, if ever have I heard them referred to as Lady Mountaineers.

        • ThatGuyOverThere, PhD.

          Rarely if ever have I not heard the WVU womens team referred to as Lady Mountaineers.

      • ThatGuyOverThere, PhD.

        Go pound sand Mr. Haslette.

      • squad

        please.

  • PeaceMonWVU

    Way to take care of the task at hand in the first round of the NCAA tournament against Albany!!! This part of the Mountaineer Nation believes in the WVU Women's Basketball team!!!! Roll on one game at a time and Let's Go Mountaineers!!!

  • pghmountaineer

    It's a disgrace by the NCAA to be a 2 seed and have to play a 7 seed on their home court. What a crock.
    The NCAA is out of control. This should never happen where a higher seed has to play a lower seed on their home court in the Tournament. Shame on them!

    • wv_hawk

      When the sites were chosen, it was known that LSU could be home. The same thing happened a few years ago when WVU had to play New Mexico on their home floor.

      In such cases, the team that makes the tourney - and has their home court as a tourney site - should be forced to travel to a different region.

      The "great" ncaa, however, does not see things this way, and of course - any "New Mexico" or "LSU" that gets the home game will never complain.

      • Say What

        Betcha a dollar to a donut had WVU bid on this tourney and was accepted as a host site, our team would've been placed in another region.

      • Allan Taylor

        The pathetic "crowd" that stuck around to watch WVU-Albany is precisely the reason WHY these pods are situated on team's home floors. LSU drew a decent crowd in the first game and figures to have a bigger one Tuesday. (Yes, those session tickets counted toward the WVU attendance.) Had this been at a neutral site, there wouldn't have been as many ticket sales. No, it isn't fair from a traditional standpoint, but the NCAA and its member schools selected this format in an attempt to create better atmospheres—and dollars—for the tourney. ... Next year, top-four seeds in each region will at least have the option to host first- and second-round games, as opposed to making preseason bids.

    • Aaron

      This has been explained about half a dozen times. I would love to see them at home but WVU didn't bid the game. Had they, it would likely have been in Morgantown.

  • Woodchuck

    The WV media has for the WVU ladies. They want to cover the scum we have put in charge of our young men and that my friends is a shame. (I am only speaking of football and basketball which is driven by Ollie and his Charleston area money men)

  • Aaron

    As I mentioned on another article, I thought that perhaps after cruising to such a big first half lead, perhaps our Mountaineers overlooked Albany and instead looked forward to LSU.

    Despite Craig's 23 points, I thought WV centers, including redshirt freshman Lenee (sp) did a good job of working Craig as Craig had a weight advantage in addition to her height advantage which made it difficult to push her off the block.

    Whatever the reason for the lull, whether it was on WV's part of America West champions Albany, which won 29 games rose to the challenge, it was a good win for the Mountaineers.

    Hopefully, there will be more than the 28 people I saw in attendance during the 2nd half. I cannot imagine that had WVU bid and received home court for this game, they could have done any worse crowd wise then what was present at the game.

    Come on Mr. Luck and Coach Carey, you guys need to start bidding these games so WV is not forced to play at a lower seeds venue.

    • Kiddkornbred

      I meant Aaron not Asron. My fingers are big for my phone

    • Kiddkornbred

      We'll Asron I think the Mountaineer woman were not overlooking Albany

      • Aaron

        Then why do you suppose they came out in the 2nd half and turned the ball over 10 times after none in the first half? Other than making shots, I didn't see a world of difference in Albany in the 2nd half. They may have pressed a little more but it wasn't like they didn't press in the first half?

  • CaptainQ

    The Lady Mountaineers have a real good chance to go deep in this tournament! Why isn't MetroNews Sports offering MORE coverage of our nationally ranked Women's BB team instead of focusing more on the antics of the Football and/or Men's BB squads? At least the Lady Mountaineers are WINNERS! Not like the 4-8 Football team or the 'one and done' NIT bound Men's team.

  • TW EAGLE

    any chance you can do a running recap of the Tuesday game like you did for a lot of the men's games ? seems the advertised tv exposure for the ladies game disappeared like smoke in a tornado . . . probably get the same treatment for the game with LSU . . .

  • Dave

    would be nice to share this on social media , without a picture of Dana Holgerson coming up

    • Uncle Unctuous

      That's not Dana in that Albany jersey.