March 22, 2008
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - West Virginia couldn't take the partisan Pit crowd out of the game. The Mountaineers still managed to knock the hometown New Mexico Lobos out of the NCAA tournament.
Chakhia Cole scored 22 points, including the game-winning jumper with 17.5 seconds left as the No. 5 seeded Mountaineers (25-7) eked out a 61-60 win over the Lobos in the first round of the NCAA tournament Saturday night.
Playing in front of a boisterous crowd of more than 12,000 fans at The Pit, the Mountaineers overcame a late scoring drought and a technical foul on point guard Ashley Powell.
Powell was whistled after going down with Kimble in a battle for a loose ball. New Mexico's Amy Beggin hit two free throws off the technical to give New Mexico a 55-52 lead with 2:35 left.
Cole tied it with a 3-pointer with 2:02 left. It was the Mountaineers' first points since the 7:14 mark.
Marsh put the Lobos back in front with two free throws with 1:40 remaining. Cole forced another tie 17 seconds later with two free throws.
Olayinka Sanni, the Mountaineers leading scorer who sat out most of the first half in foul trouble, made it 59-57 on a layup, but New Mexico's Angela Hartill hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 31.6 seconds left for the Lobos' final lead.
West Virginia got the ball to Cole. She dribbled for the key, spun away from a defender and almost lost the ball, then drilled the game-winner from 10 feet.
The loss dampened a brilliant performance by Kimble, who hit a career-high five 3-pointers and had a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Kimble kept the Lobos in the game with her athletic moves to the basket.
But it wasn't enough against the Mountaineers, who made up for Sanni's limited playing time and 8-point game behind Cole and LaQuita Owens, who scored all 13 of her points in the first half.
At the final horn, the Mountaineers sprinted onto the court in celebration. New Mexico fans who supported the Lobos stood to offer a standing ovation - for their team and for a great game.