Early Lead Lifts West Virginia

  • December 12, 2009 04:58 PM
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By Steve Stone for MSNsportsNET.com
December 12, 2009


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A runaway lead in the first half was all the West Virginia University women’s basketball team needed as it defeated Longwood, 74-43, on Saturday afternoon at the WVU Coliseum.



West Virginia built a 28-point halftime advantage before slowing down in the second half. Junior guard Liz Repella scored 20 points, her second-most this season. The preseason all-Big East team member was 6 of 14 from the field, including 4 of 9 from 3-point distance, and looked to score nearly every time she touched the ball in the first half.

Repella also had eight rebounds and tied her season-high with five steals.

Late in the second half, the Mountaineers (9-1) were aided by the play of sophomore center Natalie Burton. The Perth Australia, Carine, native scored a season-high 10 points in 15 minutes, finding open spots in the lane to utilize her post game as well as crashing the offensive glass.

“I thought we played better in the first half and I thought Natalie Burton played well,” coach Mike Carey said. “They will be off tomorrow and we will prepare for Fresno State, which is a very good basketball team. From here on out we are playing against good teams.”

Burton scored eight of her points in a near two-minute span, ending with her final basket at the 4:02 mark that gave WVU a commanding 69-38 lead. She also tied a season-high with six rebounds.

“I’m glad to see Natalie coming in and doing well. She needed that confidence, and hopefully that gave her a little bit of confidence,” Carey added.

Korinne Campbell had her seventh double-figure performance of the season, totaling 10 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes. Guard Vanessa House also had 10 points, including 5 of 5 shooting from the free throw line.

Guard Sarah Miles chipped in with nine points, six rebounds and seven assists.

“I think she put up some more shots tonight, which is what we want her to do so she can get in a rhythm offensively,” Carey said of Miles.

WVU outrebounded its opponent for the ninth time in 10 games, grabbing 49 boards compared to 30 by the Lancers (2-8). The Mountaineers shot 41.1 percent from the floor and held the opposition to just 28 percent.

Despite the discrepancy in statistics, Carey hoped for his team to come out with the same execution in the second half. After its sizeable first-half advantage, WVU outscored Longwood, 30-27, in the game’s final 20 minutes.

“They were running a press and we didn’t do a good job running up the floor and getting into our offense in the second half,” Carey mentioned. “Even though we had some turnovers in the first half, I thought we played organized and we played decent.”

The opportunity for second-chance points set up by offensive rebounds created more possessions for WVU. It totaled 32 points in the paint and had 24 points off turnovers.

West Virginia jumped out to a 44-16 lead at halftime. Repella looked for her shot early and often, scoring 17 points on 5 of 10 shooting, including 3 of 5 from long range. Its 44 points scored were the most WVU has totaled in the opening half this season.

Campbell, coming off the bench for the first time this year, gave the Mountaineers a spark with eight points on 3 of 6 shooting. Seven of the eight players that saw action in the first half scored, providing a balanced attack against the Lancers.

West Virginia steadily expanded its lead with a pressure defense that forced an upbeat style of play by Longwood. Campbell’s fastbreak layup with 8:16 left gave WVU a 21-9 lead, then the Mountaineers scored an abundance of baskets in a 21-5 run that culminated with two free throws by freshman Akeema Richards with 1:17 remaining. Richards added a layup eight seconds later, but Longwood’s Krystal Garrison’s layup in the open court with 14 seconds left ended the first half.

The Mountaineers return to action next Saturday, Dec. 19, with a matchup against Fresno State. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at the WVU Coliseum.

Game Notes: Repella recorded her 42nd career double-figure scoring game … Miles has posted at least two steals in every contest this season … Miles has also recorded seven or more assists in five straight contests and eight of 10 games this season … Mike Carey is just three victories shy of reaching 450 for his career ... Repella's 96 career 3-point field goals tie her with Jocelyn Branham for 10th on the school's all-time list ... today's contest was just the ninth time in school history that West Virginia recorded 10 blocks and 11 steals in a single game, and the second time this season ... before this season, the last time WVU recorded as many blocks and steals in one contest was against Duquesne on Feb. 13, 1986 (15 steals, 13 blocks) ... Madina Ali grabbed double-digit rebounds for the second time this season ... West Virginia has now held its opponents to under 50 points for the fifth-straight contest.

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    Sarah Miles has her arm grabbed during a drive to the basketball in the first half of West Virginia's 74-43 win over Longwood at the WVU Coliseum.
All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks photo