West Virginia hits late free throws to stun No. 2 Notre Dame
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Suddenly the only noise in an arena that had been loud all day was the happy screaming of the West Virginia Mountaineers, who had just managed possibly the program's biggest upset.
West Virginia matched No. 2 Notre Dame's physical play and won most of the hustle points in a 65-63 victory that ended the Irish's 21-game winning streak.
Brooke Hampton made two free throws with 4.6 seconds left to give the Mountaineers (18-6, 8-3 Big East) the lead and the celebration was on after a 15-footer by Natalie Novosel of Notre Dame bounced off the rim as time expired.
"This is a great win for us," Mountaineers coach Mike Carey said. "We were below .500 three or four years ago and we beat Louisville at Louisville when they were ranked third in the country. This is right up there (with our best wins ever)."
The Mountaineers came in on a three-game winning streak and were confident heading into Sunday, according to center Asya Bussie who had 22 points and eight rebounds.
"I just think we were more focused," she said. "We prepared all week and we just came in and did what we had to do to get the win."
Bussie hit a turnaround jumper with 39 seconds to go that tied the game at 63.
Skylar Diggins had a career-high 32 points for Notre Dame (24-2, 11-1), which came into the game leading the nation at 83.2 points per game.
Diggins missed a contested layup that could have tied the score with less than 10 seconds to play. She fouled Hampton at midcourt as she went for a steal with 4.6 seconds to go.
Hampton then made the free throws that gave her four points for the game -- all from the line.
The Mountaineers forced Notre Dame into 17 turnovers.
"I think we had to sit down and get a little physical with them," Carey said. "Because if you don't they are just going to throw you out of the way and go get a layup. I've watched a lot a lot of tape on them and (that is what they do). So we tried to get our guards to sit down and body them up a little bit more."
Ayna Dunning added 11 points for the Mountaineers, who finished with a 41-33 rebound advantage.
"This was a big win for us," Carey said. "We lost five seniors from last year and they were almost 90 percent of our offense. For these girls to get this type of win on the road will do a lot for our confidence because we are young. We have to build on this."
Novosel scored 16 points for Notre Dame and Devereaux Peters grabbed 17 rebounds.
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said her team had been building up toward this loss.
"We just have not played well for a long time," McGraw said. "And the pressure really got to us today. West Virginia really got us out of our rhythm and besides Skylar no one could get anything going offensively.
"They were physical," McGraw continued, "but I don't know if that's what threw us off. We just did not execute like we can. Ten assists and 17 turnovers tells you that."
Notre Dame shot 41 percent from the field for the game while West Virginia shot 39 percent.
A 3-pointer by Taylor Palmer of West Virginia tied the game at 35 with 17:26 to play. Diggins scored on consecutive possessions to start a 9-0 run. The Mountaineers rallied to tie it at 55 on two free throws by Bussie with 4:39 to play.
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