VILLANOVA, Pa. – The No. 9 ranked West Virginia women’s basketball team held off a furious second half charge from BIG EAST opponent Villanova to earn the program’s first ever win at The Pavilion, 39-36.
With the win, the Mountaineers (9-0, 1-0 BE) remain undefeated. The win also marks the only time the team has recorded less than 40 points in a win under the direction of head coach Mike Carey, and only the second time in the program’s history that the team has won without scoring at least 40 points, the first time occurring in 1973-74, when the team posted a 37-33 win over Salem.
As expected, the game started out as a defensive struggle, the Mountaineers understanding that the key to winning the game would come from effectively shutting down Villanova’s 3-point game. And the defense was able to do just that, holding Villanova 3-point threats Lindsey Kimmel and Rachel Roberts to a combined 5-of-15 shooting percentage from beyond the arc, while holding the Wildcats (5-4, 0-1 BE) as a whole to 22.6 percent (7-of-31) from the 3-point range.
Despite this defense, the Mountaineer offense struggled all night, allowing Villanova to come back strong in the second half. At one point, the Wildcats went on a dominating scoring run, outscoring the Mountaineers, 17-8.
As the game began to wear down, Villanova threatened to take the lead. With 4:02 left in the second half, Liz Repella sank a three to give the Mountaineers the lead by four, 35-31. However, Roberts and Kimmel charged back down the court, sinking an unanswered layup and a 3-point attempt, respectively, to give the Wildcats their second lead of the game by one with 2:57 left. Repella would then answer Kimmel’s three, making a layup to regain the lead, 37-36.
“If anyone is going to take a big shot, we want Liz (Repella) to take it,” said Carey. “She hit a shot and Brooke Hampton
came down with only a one-point lead, and we wanted a layup, and she found Madina (Ali) to get that layup.”
Kimmel would try to answer again, but missed yet another 3-point attempt, Madina Ali coming up with the huge defensive rebound with 1:07 left to play. However, neither team would score again until 19 seconds remained, when Ali made a layup to improve the Mountaineer lead to 39-36. Kimmel would then miss her last two 3-point attempts of the game, giving the victory to West Virginia.
“Give Villanova credit; they did a great job,” Carey said. “We weren't moving the ball, reversing the ball or spacing out. I think it's good to struggle and win. I'd rather win ugly than lose ugly. We have a lot of work to do.”
Repella led the Mountaineer offense in scoring, with 14 points on 6-of-15 shooting. The Mountaineers shot 38.6 percent from the field (17-of-44), while holding Villanova to only 26 percent (13-of-50) from the field.
Villanova was led by forward Kimmel, who scored 12 points and four boards. Redshirt freshman guard Devon Kane contributed seven points for the Wildcats, and Roberts and sophomore forward Laura Sweeney each added five.
The undefeated Mountaineers return home to the WVU Coliseum on Saturday, Dec. 11, where they will take on Prairie View A&M. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.