No. 9 West Virginia 54, South Florida 45
West Virginia coach Mike Carey isn't happy with the way his team's playing.
The ninth-ranked Mountaineers only led by four at the half before holding on for a 54-45 victory over South Florida on Saturday.
``We're just not playing well right now,'' Carey said. ``We're going through a stretch here where we struggle to score, and we've got to get it fixed. It seems like we're just doing enough to win, and that's not good enough if you want to go far in the tournament, so we've got to get some things corrected.''
Korinne Campbell had 14 points and 14 rebounds to lead West Virginia (24-3, 11-2 Big East). Madina Ali added 10 points and nine rebounds for the Mountaineers, whose only losses have been on the road against Top Five teams.
``We can only go as far as we're willing to work,'' Campbell said.
Carey was impressed with the work of center Asya Bussie, who scored only four points but limited counterpart Jessica Lawson to zero points and six rebounds. Lawson entered the game leading the Bulls with 15.2 points and 10.8 rebounds a game.
``Our emphasis was definitely to stop Lawson,'' Carey said. ``We did that, but we kind of forgot about other people.''
KaNeisha Saunders had team-highs for South Florida (14-12, 5-8) with 18 points, four assists and four steals. Teammate Leondra Doomes-Stephens finished with 14 points and six rebounds.
Both teams shot poorly in the first half. Campbell scored 11 for the Mountaineers, who made only 9 of 28 shots. With both sides shooting even worse midway through the second half, Saunders hit a jumper to pull South Florida within 35-32.
The West Virginia lead peaked at 13 points on a layup and free throw by Sarah Miles with 2:25 left on the clock.
The Bulls kept it close in the first half despite 25-percent shooting (7-for-28) and the absence of two of their top three scorers. Starters Janae Stokes (12.1 ppg) and Sequoyah Griffin (9.7), along with reserve Dominique English, were suspended for the third consecutive game for violating team rules.
``We've got to go with what we've got. We've got eight strong, so we've just got to finish the season out,'' Saunders said.
Carey can relate to how Bulls coach Jose Fernandez feels with a short bench.
``I feel his pain,'' he said. ``We had like six or seven last year. We had a bunch of injuries and all that. Quite frankly, I've watched their Georgetown tape on film, and I think they look better right now.''
Fernandez is highly satisfied with the effort of his remaining players.
``We held them to 36-percent shooting and 54 points,'' he said, ``and they're a very good basketball team.''