Mountaineers awaken, secure No. 3 seed in Big East tourney

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- Meg Bulger and Olayinka Sanni each scored 20 points and No. 13 West Virginia overcame a sluggish start to hold off Louisville 78-70 on Saturday and clinch a first-round bye in the Big East tournament.

Chakhia Cole scored 10 of her 13 points in the second half and finished with 11 rebounds for the Mountaineers.

West Virginia (23-5, 12-3) overcame 22 turnovers to clinch the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament behind top-ranked Connecticut and fourth-ranked Rutgers.

Angel McCoughtry had 29 points, 11 rebounds and five steals for the Cardinals (20-8, 9-6). Candyce Bingham added 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Lateefah Joye put the Mountaineers ahead to stay, 46-44, with her first career 3-pointer with 12:30 remaining in the game.

Sparkle Davis made two free throws to cap a 10-1 run for West Virginia's largest lead, 71-61, with 1:20 remaining.

West Virginia was held scoreless for more than 10 minutes in the first half and Louisville jumped ahead 29-17. The Mountaineers used a 14-3 run ending the half to trail 32-31 at halftime.

Bulger made six 3-pointers and West Virginia went 11-of-27 for the game to set a single-season school record with 208.

It was the final home game for seven seniors, the largest class in West Virginia history.