CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Christal Caldwell
’s second-half surge helped the No. 25/23 West Virginia women’s basketball team to a come-from-behind win over Virginia, 54-47, Sunday at the John Paul Jones Arena.
“I thought both teams played extremely hard,” coach Mike Carey said. “It was a game of runs. We got hot there for a bit in the second half, and then Virginia did a nice job of getting back into the game. Christal Caldwell
hit a big three for us. Virginia has a very good basketball team. We have not been playing very well and, especially in the second half, we did a lot better than we have in the last two games.”
Caldwell recorded 17-of-19 total points in the second half, while Taylor Palmer
chipped in another five in the second half for 11 total in the game. The pair combined for four of WVU’s 3-pointers.
“We kind of challenged them at halftime,” Carey explained. “Even though we were playing hard, we weren’t playing smart. We played a lot smarter and came out and got a run.”
The Mountaineers (4-2) went into the locker room at halftime, trailing the Cavaliers (5-2) by three, 26-23. WVU came out shooting, as it went on an 18-4 run out of the break to take a 13-point lead, its largest of the game, at the 11:39 mark. The run included four points from Ayana Dunning
, five from Palmer and Caldwell capped the run with a 9-0 run of her own.
The Cavaliers answered back, cutting the deficit to single digits at the 7:32 mark with a China Crosby layup, making the score 45-36, with WVU still in favor. Virginia held WVU without a field goal until the 2:07 mark, when the Mountaineers needed it most, as UVA chipped away at the lead and came within three points (48-45), but Caldwell hit her second three of the game to pull back out 51-45. A Simone Egwu layup made it a four-point game with under two minutes, but Virginia was held without a field goal to the buzzer.
The Mountaineers shot 35.6 percent (21-59) from the field, while limiting Virginia to 25.9 percent (15-58) shooting. WVU made 23.6 percent (5-19) from beyond the arc, while holding UVA to 14.3 percent (3-21). Virginia had the advantage from the free-throw line, making 70 percent (14-20) of its attempts to WVU’s 50 percent (7-14).
The Cavaliers out-rebounded WVU45-42, led by Sarah Imovbioh with six boards. WVU forced 23 Cavalier turnovers, capitalizing 21 points off turnovers, while limiting their own to 16. Part of WVU’s defensive efforts were in the steal category as Averee Fields
led in stealing with four of the team’s 14 total steals. Linda Stepney
dished out a season-best seven assists, followed by Fields’ four assists.
“We’re known defensively,” Carey said. “Our girls really stepped it up today and talked and communicated and did a great job. There was a lot of bodies on the floor there and I thought it was a great basketball game. We feel very fortunate. They are going to win a lot of games and hopefully we will too. I thought our team battled for 40 minutes.”
Virginia was led in scoring by Egwu with 14 points, followed by Ataira Franklin with 12 points. WVU’s Fields led all players in rebounding with nine boards, followed by Crystal Leary
, who pulled down eight rebounds.
The Mountaineers return to road action as they face Marshall at the Chesapeake Energy Capital Classic at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 4 in Charleston, W.Va.