On a couple of levels Monday night, there was no stopping Bria Holmes.
The junior guard for West Virginia played all 40 minutes and ended her busy shift with a career-high 36 points as the Mountaineers topped Seton Hall, 89-87, at home to advance to the semifinals of the Preseason WNIT. West Virginia (2-0) will play at Mississippi State on Thursday starting at 8 p.m. ET in one semifinal, with Albany and either Colorado or Western Kentucky playing in the other matchup.
Holmes scored 20 points in the second half and was in the middle of the Mountaineers’ 8-0 burst with about six minutes to go that pushed them up, 77-70. A conventional three-point play by Holmes at 1:11 gave the home team an 85-79 lead; Seton Hall’s Tabatha Richardson-Smith drained a 3-pointer with 13 seconds to go to make it 87-85. WVU’s Teana Muldrow hit one free throw to extend the lead to 89-87, and Daisha Simmons missed a contested layup at the buzzer on the game’s final play.
Seton Hall (1-1) will play in the WNIT consolation round Friday or Saturday. The Pirates were paced by Richardson-Smith’s 32 points and eight rebounds; Ka-Deidre Simmons added 20 points and 10 assists, and Daisha Simmons closed with 14 points and six assists. Seton Hall was 12-of-25 from 3-point range and had just 14 turnovers, an exceptional number given the frenzy and pace of the game in the second half.
West Virginia was bolstered by career-high totals of 21 points and 15 rebounds by Averee Fields. Muldrow, a redshirt freshman, nailed six 3-pointers and scored 19 points to go along with nine rebounds. The Mountaineers nearly paid the price for a rough night from the free-throw line (24-of-40), but they did reel in 45 rebounds.