MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 14/19 West Virginia women’s basketball team held the USC Upstate Spartans to 18 second-half points in route to a 75-45 victory at the WVU Coliseum, Saturday.
“I thought it was the second game in a row that we didn’t play and get after it. We stood around and shot threes the first half, and the second half we penetrated a lot more aggressively. When we’re aggressive like that we play better on defense,” coach Mike Carey said. “I thought Bria Holmes came out and did some good things at times. Our young players came out and played with energy.”
The Mountaineers’ (3-0) bench guided the team with 53 points, led by freshman Bria Holmes with a career-best 14. Freshman Jennie Simms added in another 11 points, with 6-of-6 from the free throw line, while sophomore Crystal Leary put up nine points, and led the team in rebounding with 10 boards.
Sophomore Averee Fields added 10 points and grabbed four steals, while senior Ayana Dunning recorded nine points and grabbed eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Linda Stepney recorded five assists, while limiting herself to only one turnover.
The Spartans (1-3) were held to only 10 field goals in the game, however, shot 76.9 percent, while WVU recorded a 63.2 field goal percentage on 24-of-38 shooting. The Mountaineers were 17.2 percent (5-29) from beyond the arc, with threes coming from Akilah Bethel, Darius Faulk, Jess Harlee, Simms and Holmes. USC Upstate’s Tee’Ara Copney was 1-of-2 from 3-point range, contributing the Spartans’ sole 3-pointer (1-10).
The Spartans were led in scoring by Tyra Smith, the only Upstate player in double figures, while Copney contributed nine points.
WVU shot 63.2 percent (24-38) from the free throw line, while USC Upstate was 76.9 percent (10-13) accurate. The Mountaineers forced a season-high 15 steals, while limiting turnovers to 12, in comparison to the Spartans’ 29 turnovers. WVU dominated the paint, out-scoring Upstate 34-24 and out-rebounding 40-29.
The Mountaineers return to the court as they travel to the FIU Thanksgiving Classic in Miami, Fla. WVU will face LSU, who is receiving votes in both major polls, in the first round at 8 p.m., on Friday, Nov. 23. WVU will then advance to face either Florida International or Iowa on Sunday, Nov. 25.
“We have a lot of work between now and LSU,” Carey said. “They play a 2-3 matchup, so we’ll see a zone again the whole time.”