SOUTH ORANGE, N.J., - The sixth-ranked West Virginia women’s basketball team survived an early second half rally by Seton Hall to come away with the win, 67-46, on Wednesday afternoon at Walsh Gymnasium.
One of the biggest questions coming into the game was whether or not the Mountaineers (15-0, 2-0 BE) would be able to improve upon the slow first half starts they had experienced against St. Bonaventure and CCSU. While the team did show improvement, dominating on both offense and defense in the first half, they didn’t come out strong in the second half, allowing the Pirates (7-8, 0-2 BE) to go on a 19-3 scoring run to cut a 19-point halftime deficit down to three.
“We haven’t been playing the first half well in the last couple games so I felt pretty good with our performance in the first half,” said coach Mike Carey. “I told them at half that we have to start the second half like the score is 0-0 and we came out and let them make a 10-0 run on us. We weren’t up the lanes defensively and give them credit; they were ready to play in the second half as every team in the BIG EAST will be every half.”
Liz Repella and Sarah Miles provided the offensive spark needed to help jumpstart the Mountaineer offense after nearly losing the lead. With 12:57 remaining, Repella sank her fourth 3-point shot of the game, allowing the team breathing room. Miles then made back-to-back layups to increase the Mountaineer lead back to ten points, 48-38. West Virginia then used their own 20-3 scoring run to bring their lead back to 20 points and put away the Pirates.
“I think we were a step slow coming out of the gates in the second half,” explained Repella. “All year our defense leads our offense and it wasn’t very good in the beginning of the second half. Once we started playing better defense, we hit a couple shots and it started going our way again.”
“We have a lot of seniors and people who have been through this before. When they cut it to three, we ran a quick hitter for Liz (Repella) and she hit a three and from that point on Sarah (Miles) started getting to the rim and we got our defense going,” said Carey.
Repella led the team in scoring, putting up a season-high 24 points and taking down eight boards in 34 minutes of play. Fellow senior and co-captain Madina Ali had her fifth double-double of the season, notching ten points and ten rebounds, while Vanessa House came in third in scoring with eight points and two rebounds.
West Virginia came into the game ranked first in the country in scoring defense, and was able to hold Seton Hall to 27.8 percent (15-of-54) from field goal range while shooting 46.4 percent (26-of-46) from the field themselves. They Mountaineers also dominated the rebound battle, 45-28, and led in blocks and steals with 13 and 11, respectively.
Forward Kandice Green and guard Jasmine Crew led the Pirates in scoring, each putting up 10 points against a solid Mountaineer defense. Green also led Seton Hall in rebounds with six.
The Mountaineers return to action at the WVU Coliseum on Saturday afternoon, where they’ll play host to Big East opponent Cincinnati. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m., with MSNsportsNET.com providing a live video stream and stats. The game will also be aired on WVPBS.