The No. 22/23-ranked West Virginia University women’s basketball ended its three-game, season-opening homestand with an 83-31 win over Radford on Sunday afternoon, at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown.
The Mountaineers put together another dominant effort against the Highlanders and led for 38:28 in a game that was won handily by WVU. West Virginia’s defense was stifling, as the team forced 32 turnovers, including 17 steals, and held Radford to under 10 points in each quarter. WVU also held RU to less than 30% shooting in three of four quarters.
Four WVU players finished with 10 or more points in the game, including junior guard KK Deans, who tallied a game-high 16 points. Joining her in double figures were junior forward Esmery Martinez (12), fifth-year senior forward Ari Gray (11) and senior guard Jasmine Carson (11). Additionally, Gray led WVU on the glass, with a game-high nine rebounds.
“I was looking for them to come out and play hard, and when you get up 20, 30, 40 points, then you start getting sloppy. (You start) doing things you shouldn’t do,” WVU coach Mike Carey said. “Especially on offense, but we are getting ready to go play in the Florida Tournament (St. Pete Showcase). We play Purdue in our next game, and if we win, we play the winner of Florida State and BYU. So, we are getting ready to step it up here.”
After West Virginia took the opening tip, senior forward Kari Niblack sank a jumper from the elbow to put the Mountaineers on the board and take the early lead. Martinez scored the next five points and helped WVU lead by 7-0 at the media break.
WVU’s defense came out in full force on Sunday afternoon, as the team held Radford scoreless until 5:32 remained in the first quarter. Following the Highlanders’ tally, junior guard Jayla Hemingway’s and-1 conversion helped West Virginia go up by 10 and started to build the lead for the Mountaineers.
A 9-0 run that began at the 3:53 mark, which was capped by a 3-pointer from sophomore guard Savannah Samuel, helped WVU mount an 18-point lead, which it held until the end of the quarter.
West Virginia began the second quarter on an 8-0 run that allowed it to stretch the advantage to 26 points. Radford attempted to chip into the lead during the middle part of the quarter, but the Mountaineers continued to hold a lead of 20-plus throughout.
After WVU made it a 40-13 game following an and-1 by Gray, the Highlanders went on a 6-0 run that helped them really cut into their deficit. However, a pair of steals from freshman guard JJ Quinerly set up three points for WVU that helped snuff out the RU scoring threat.
Senior guard Jasmine Carson struck from 3-point range with 23 seconds remaining in the half to give the Mountaineers a 46-18 advantage heading into the locker room.
Radford’s 18 points in the first half were the fewest allowed in a half by West Virginia this season. Of note, Martinez and Gray were tied for the team lead in points, with nine apiece, at the break.
A steal-and-score by Deans opened the third quarter and gave WVU a 30-point lead in the game. The Greensboro, North Carolina, native went on to score six of the Mountaineers’ 13 points before the media timeout, when West Virginia led by 37.
Following the break, WVU went on a 9-0 run that helped pile on to its lead. The Mountaineer defense held Radford scoreless for five minutes during the middle part of the quarter, which ultimately put the game out of reach for the Highlanders. A 3-pointer by Samuel helped West Virginia take a 71-26 lead into the fourth quarter.
With the game decided, the Mountaineers’ reserves pushed the advantage up to 51 points in the opening minutes of the final frame. Despite a few scores from RU, West Virginia ended up winning by 52 points, as neither team scored over the final 2:59.
WVU finished the game shooting 30-of-64 (46.9%) from the field and made four 3-pointers. The Mountaineers scored 44 of its 83 points in the paint and tallied 34 points off Radford’s 32 turnovers. Of note, for the third consecutive game, West Virginia’s bench came away with 33 or more points and tallied a season-best 43 against the Highlanders.
Next up, WVU embarks on its first road trip of the 2021-22 campaign, as the team travels to St. Petersburg, Florida, from Nov. 25-27, to compete in the 2021 St. Pete Showcase. West Virginia begins tournament action on Thursday, Nov. 25, from Eckerd College, against Purdue before playing the winner of Florida State-BYU on Saturday, Nov. 27. Thursday’s contest against the Boilermakers begins at 5 p.m. ET, and will be broadcast on FloHoops.