|Coach Mike Carey earned his 250th victory at WVU Tuesday. Carey reached 250 wins the fastest of any coach in Mountaineer women's basketball program history, doing so in 13 seasons.
|All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks photo
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia women’s basketball team gave coach Mike Carey his 250th WVU victory with an 88-56 win over Coppin State, Tuesday evening, at the WVU Coliseum.
“We played better in the second half, that’s it,” coach Carey said. “I’ve been here 13 years. I’m going to say the same thing everyone else says. I’ve had a lot of great players, support and assistant coaches, but, I just think you can win at West Virginia. It’s a great place to coach. Hopefully I can win a few more.”
The Mountaineers (6-1), who have won six consecutive games, led by only three points at halftime. Senior guard Christal Caldwell
fired out a 3-pointer on WVU’s first possession of the second half, sparking a 12-5 run over the first 3:55 of play. The Mountaineers’ improved offensive efforts pushed them out to lead by as many as 33 (81-48) at the 4:59 mark.
WVU improved its shooting from only 33.3 percent (10-30) from the field and not a single three in five attempts in the first half, to a 58.8 percent (20-34) clip with six threes in the closing half. The Mountaineers totaled 46.9 percent (30-64) from the field, 35.3 percent (6-17) from 3-point range and 66.7 percent (22-33) from the free throw line.
The Eagles (3-4) came out aggressive making 42.9 percent (12-28) of their shots, with three treys in the opening half, but were stifled to only nine field goals (27.3%) and a pair of threes in the closing half. Coppin State recorded 34.4 percent (21-61) from the field, 55.6 percent (5-9) from beyond the arc and 60 percent (9-15) from the charity stripe.
“Give Coppin State credit. They didn’t back down. They came in and played hard. I think their coach does a great job,” Carey explained.
Coppin State went point-for-point with WVU in the first half, tying the game on eight different occasions. The Mountaineers used a 9-2 run to pull away from a 15-15 tie, for their largest lead of the opening half, 24-17, at the 5:01 mark.
Coppin State’s Kyra Coleman led all players at halftime with 12 points, including a pair of threes, but was held to one three after the break. Junior forward Crystal Leary
and senior center Asya Bussie
each went into halftime with seven points.
Caldwell used a 16-point closing half to lead all players with a season-best 22 points. She used a season-high four 3-pointers as part of her 10th
-career 20-point game. Senior guard Taylor Palmer
came off the bench to give WVU a season-high 18 points, 15 in the second half, on 5-of-10 shooting from the field and 7-of-10 from the free throw line in 22 minutes. The Mountaineer bench contributed 45 points in the win.
Bussie pulled down a game-leading 11 rebounds, to go with a season-high four blocked shots. Leary added another seven rebounds, helping WVU outrebound Coppin State 46-40. For the second-consecutive game, junior guard Linda Stepney
dished out six assists.
The Mountaineers earned 38 points in the paint to the Eagles’ 22, and capitalized off turnovers with 30 points on 27 Coppin State giveaways. Palmer and junior forward Jess Harlee
aided in the turnovers, grabbing four steals each. WVU limited its own turnovers to six in the second half, giving away 18 total for the game.
“There were shots that we passed up in the first half, then we forced it and turned it over. We only had six turnovers in the second half. We have to be aggressive,” Carey said. “Defensively, I thought thank goodness for Crystal Leary and Jess
Harlee. They came in and changed the game in the first half and got us moving.”
Coleman and Ashle Craig led the Eagles in scoring with 15 and 14 points, respectively. Craig also have four assists and five steals. Janelle Lane was Coppin State’s leading rebounder with eight boards.
West Virginia will close out the week with a 2 p.m. matchup on Saturday against Fairleigh Dickinson at the WVU Coliseum.