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Mountaineers downed big time by No. 16 South Florida in West Palm Beach Invitational

The West Virginia women’s basketball team was destroyed by No. 16 South Florida in the opening game of the West Palm Beach Invitational on Monday afternoon, 77-55.

South Florida was the more dominant team in all four quarters outscoring West Virginia by 22 points and outrebounding the Mountaineers by 17 boards, 36-19. The Bulls had five scorers finish in double digits as sophomore guard Elena Tsineke led the way on the day with 20 points.  

The Mountaineers finished the day with only two scorers in double digits after senior guard Madisen Smith netted 15 points and junior guard Kirsten Deans totaled 13 points.

It wasn’t a pretty beginning for the Mountaineers, falling behind 10-2 through the opening four minutes of the first quarter. South Florida junior guard Sydni Harvey knocked down a three-pointer to extend the Bulls advantage to eight points before hitting another three a couple minutes later to make it an 18-5 game.

After Harvey hit a couple free throws, the Mountaineer Smith cut the West Virginia deficit to five points on a layup and a three pointer with a minute left before the second quarter. Deans then hit a two-point jumper to end the opening quarter and put the West Virginia deficit at five points, 22-17.

South Florida came out strong again in the second quarter as sophomore guard Maria Alvarez hit a three-pointer four minutes into the quarter to extend the Bulls lead to eight, 27-19. Following a Mountaineer freshman guard JJ Quinerly layup halfway through the quarter, South Florida redshirt senior Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu knocked down a two-point jumper to make it a double-digit game again, 31-21.

Alvarez proceeded to hit another three-pointer with three minutes remaining before halftime to keep the South Florida advantage out of reach at 13 points, 34-21. Even after a Quinerly three and a trio of Mountaineer free throws, South Florida carried a nine-point edge heading into halftime, 36-27.

The second half began with a junior guard Esmery Martinez free throw and a senior forward Kari Niblack two-point jumper through the opening two minutes of the second half for the Mountaineers. The next three minutes of the second half then saw West Virginia go on a scoreless drought and a 6-0 South Florida run for a 15-point margin, 45-30.

The Bulls scoring run was sparked by a Tsineke and Mendijadeu pair of free throws. Only two minutes later the Mountaineers cut their deficit to 10 points yet again on a Smith layup following a Deans two-point jumper and a Martinez layup to make the game a 47-37 score.

South Florida then pulled away again on an 11-0 scoring run to end the third quarter behind a couple Alvarez three pointers which extended the Bulls advantage to 18 points before the fourth quarter, 58-40.

The Bulls only extended their lead in the fourth quarter proving why they are currently the No. 16 team in the country going on a 16-3 scoring run through five minutes of the fourth quarter. Mountaineer sophomore guard Savannah Samuel hit a free throw to mark the final score at a 77-55 West Virginia loss.

West Virginia will now take on Michigan State on Tuesday morning from the Massimino Court at Keiser University at 11 a.m. in the second game of the West Palm Beach Invitational.

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