BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Christal Caldwell scored 26 points, Bria Holmes added 20, and West Virginia defeated Albany 76-61 in the opening round of the NCAA tournament on Sunday.
Averee Fields added 10 points for second-seeded West Virginia (30-4), which will try to win a second-round game for the first time in program history Tuesday night against No. 7 seed LSU.
Megan Craig led the 15th-seeded Great Danes (28-5) with 23 points. But the 6-foot-9 center was hampered by two quick fouls that limiter her playing time in the first half.
When Craig went to the bench, the Mountaineers went on a 16-2 run to take a 33-11 lead. West Virginia’s defense help Albany scoreless for nearly six minutes during the run and the Great Danes never quite recovered.
Albany leading scorer and America East Player of the Year Shereesha Richards also got into foul trouble and was limited to only nine points before fouling out with four minutes remaining in the game.
Sara Royals scored 14 points for Albany, which fell behind by as much as 22 for mounting a desperate comeback attempt.
Albany managed to cut the lead to 56-51 with less than seven minutes to go, but West Virginia immediately responded by scoring the next four points to push the lead back to 60-51, securing the victory and its berth in the second round.
West Virginia has already set a school record for victories in a season and has its highest ever seeding in an NCAA tournament.
Now it needs one more victory for its first appearance in the tournament’s third round.
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