The Wesleyan Bobcats are peaking at the right time, and their defensive domination of late has delighted their coach.
But they can't escape one nagging shortcoming.
Since the West Virginia Conference's inaugural women's tournament in 1978, the school has never won the tourney title.
"I keep hearing that,'' Bobcat coach Jacqueline DeVane said with a smile.
"I've known that since my freshman year,'' said senior guard Lydia Bridenbaugh.
No. 1 Wesleyan reached the sixth tournament title game in school history by building a big lead early and cruising past No. 4 Shepherd 74-47 in a Friday afternoon semifinal at the Civic Center. A crowd of about 500 attended.
The Bobcats (23-6), who have won 14 of 15 and won their two tournament games by a combined margin of 50 points, will play for the championship at 3 p.m. today against No. 3 Glenville State.
"We did exactly what I wanted us to do today,'' said DeVane, "and that was to come out, set the tone and, in the first few minutes, I wanted to dominate the game. And I think we were able to come out and do that.''
After leading by only 18-13 with 11:40 left in the first half, the Bobcats outscored the Rams 25-8 to lead 43-21 at halftime, limiting Shepherd to a 22.9 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes.
All in all, it was a good reflection of the Bobcat defense.
"Before going into the game,'' said Bridenbaugh, "everyone was motivated and ready to go, and as soon as we hit that floor we focused on defense first and foremost. And then once we got our defense going, the offense came with it.''