Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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College Sports

March 23, 2010

Mountaineers face upset-minded Aztecs this evening

AUSTIN, Texas — After West Virginia outclassed Lamar 58-43 Sunday night in the first round of the NCAA women’s tournament, most of the arena was empty.

But sitting near the West Virginia bench were about two dozen fans decked in gold and blue — including a special rooting section for dynamic point guard Sarah Miles.

It was the first time her mom and grandmother got to watch her play in person and she put on a show.

Miles had an impressive night with 11 points, seven rebounds, six assists and five steals as the No. 3 seed Mountaineers bolted to a big 19-3 lead that all but settled the game early.

“I tried to keep (the family) separate from the game,” Miles said. “(But) it was exciting to have them here. It was a big moment.”

Miles, the Big East defensive player of the year, didn’t even want to make the switch from shooting guard to the point when the season began and now embraces the role on both ends of the court.

“I was a little shaken up at first because of the responsibility,” Miles said Monday.

When she complained, she was told said she could keep calling herself a shooting guard, “but you’re still going to bring (the ball) up,” coach Mike Carey said.

“After that, she accepted it,” Carey said. “She (has) done a great job. She dictated our defense, our offense. Our biggest concern with her at the point guard, she doesn’t look to score enough.”

If not for some sloppy play by Miles’ teammates — 23 total turnovers and 38 percent shooting — the Mountaineers could have really poured it on. West Virginia forced 21 Lamar turnovers and outscored the Lady Cardinals in the paint 34-14.

Liz Repella chipped in 15 points and 11 rebounds for West Virginia (29-5), which raced to dominated the rebounding 48-28 and pushed around much smaller Lamar the entire game. Lamar (26-8) started three players under 6-feet.

Defensively, West Virginia held Lamar’s 5-2 point guard Jenna Plumley, an Oklahoma transfer and Southland Conference player of the year, to nine points on 3 of 11 shooting before she fouled out.

The Mountaineers advanced to the second round tonight against No. 11 seed San Diego State (22-10). The Aztecs have one upset to their credit already, beating Texas 74-63 Sunday on the Longhorns’ home court.

Less than 24 hours later, the Aztecs were rather ho-hum about it.

“We did not come here to beat Texas at Texas,” San Diego State coach Beth Burns said Monday. “That was one-half of what we had to do to get to our next goal, which is to get to Memphis ... Our work isn’t done.”

That would mean another upset. San Diego State (22-10) would reach the second round of the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history with a win against one of the beasts of the Big East.

The Aztecs say they’re ready to take on a Mountaineers team that fought through the regular season against the likes of defending national champion and undefeated Connecticut and Notre Dame, the No. 2 seed in the Kansas City Regional.

“They’ve won their league,” Burns said of her players. “They’ve been to the tournament. They’ve won in the tournament. They expect to win.”

Both teams are probably hoping someone will come watch them play Tuesday night.

San Diego State and West Virginia both traveled more than 1,100 miles to Austin and had maybe 100 fans between them for their first-round games.

With host Texas knocked out, prospects for even a decent-sized crowd in the 16,000-seat Frank Erwin Center seem dim.

“I think we’ll be alright. We came into the NCAA tournament with ourselves. We know we have to stick together and bring our own energy,” Morris said.

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