Women's Basketball

    Hoosiers Topple No. 13 Mountaineers, 79-66

    Go Hoosiers! Indiana guard Nikki Smith reacts late in the second half. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
    Go Hoosiers!
    Indiana guard Nikki Smith reacts late in the second half. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
    Go Hoosiers!

    Dec. 22, 2007

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    BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - Indiana coach Felisha Legette-Jack has a lot of respect for No. 13 West Virginia.

    After the Hoosiers beat the Mountaineers 79-66 on Saturday, Legette-Jack walked to the scorer's table, unexpectedly grabbed a microphone and shouted: "This is a great team, we're trying to get where they are."

    The Hoosiers (7-5) were right there - at least for a brief moment.

    Jamie Braun and Kim Roberson each scored 17 points and the Hoosiers hit nine 3-pointers, one short of their season-high, as they beat a Top 25 team for the first time since beating Kentucky on Nov. 12, 2006.

    And they did it in style.

    Braun grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds, helping the Hoosiers outrebound West Virginia 37-28. Amber Jackson added 16 points, and Indiana made 9-of-20 3-pointers after shooting just 31.4 percent from beyond the arc in their first 11 games.

    The combination turned what was billed as a mismatch into a shocker.

    "It's always exciting when she does something like that because you never know what's going to come out of her mouth," Braun said of Legette-Jack's unscheduled speech. "But we were pretty excited, too, so it was fun."

    For West Virginia (10-2) it was just one of those days.

    Meg Bulger and Chakhia Cole each scored 19 points and Olayinka Sanni had 14, not nearly enough to prevent the Mountaineers' seven-game winning streak from ending.

    They entered the game averaging nearly 77 points and shooting better than 50 percent from the field in five of their last seven games. But West Virginia wasn't anywhere close to itself.

    The Mountaineers opened the game just 2-of-17 from the field, shot 40.6 percent overall, a dismal 22.7 percent from 3-point range while sending the Hoosiers to the free-throw line 29 times.

    They also lost two starters, Bulger, the youngest sister of St. Louis Rams quarterback Marc Bulger, and starting guard LaQuita Owens to injuries briefly in the second half.

    Owens went out with a left ankle injury for about four minutes, a stretch in which the Hoosiers scored nine straight points to rebuild a double-digit lead. Bulger limped into the locker room with about three minutes left but returned for the finish.

    That was only part of the problem in a rare doubleheader that had the No. 13 teams in the men's and women's polls both playing in Bloomington on the same day.

    Both ranked teams struggled, especially early and both coaches were dismayed by the performances.

    "We had played a lot better, but we played one home game the whole month of December, and I think it caught up with us today," West Virginia coach Mike Carey said.

    After an ugly start, Indiana seized control.

    The Hoosiers used an early 7-0 run to take the lead, then closed the half on an 11-2 run to make it 35-23. It was West Virginia's lowest scoring first half of the season, and matched its worst total in any half this year. The Mountaineers also scored 23 points in the second half of their only other loss, against No. 1 Tennessee.

    "At halftime, I said let's start attacking the rim a little more and go inside-out a little more and I thought we did a better job offensively in the second half," Carey said. "Defensively, we never did cover them and they were 22-of-22 on foul shots in the second half."

    West Virginia appeared to right itself early in the second half when its defense forced four turnovers and six consecutive missed shots to spark a 9-0 run that got it back within 35-32 with 15:47 to go.

    But when Owens left, the Hoosiers took advantage.

    They rebuilt a 44-32 lead with 13:26 to go, and the Mountaineers spent the rest of the game chasing. West Virginia never caught Indiana, setting up Legette-Jack's personal celebration.

    "This is a program changer in my opinion," she said. "Not a lot of 13s are going to come to your gym or want to play unless you are in conference play. In order to get somewhere, you have to play somebody. And when you play somebody, you have to beat somebody. We beat a great team today and I wanted our fans to realize that. I think this is going to take our program to another level."

     

     


       

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