MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Ever hard to please, Mike Cary thought his No. 10 West Virginia women’s team “played very slow and very tired” during Thursday night’s rivalry revival against Pitt.
The Mountaineers remained unbeaten nonetheless, jumping out to a double-digit first-quarter lead and posting a 73-52 victory.
Teana Muldrow’s 20 points and 10 rebounds led the way for West Virginia (8-0), whose starters produced all but two points. Katrina Pardee scored 15 — all on 3s — and Kristina King finished with 14 points and eight rebounds. Naomi Davenport added 13, and point guard contributed nine points, eight assists and seven rebounds.
The first game against PItt (5-4) since 2012 probably sparked more emotion from the coaches and fans than it did from either roster, considering these players came of age after the schools left behind the Big East.
“We have a lot of veteran staff and it was a big thing and big deal to them,” Ray said. “I really didn’t know it was called the Backyard Brawl until two days ago. But it was exciting game for us to know there was history between the two teams.”
Carey tried bringing up that history only to decide it was not a motivating factor.
“They start staring right through you like, ‘What the heck is he talking about?’ so I just shut up,” he said. “They don’t know. They don’t have any idea what I’m talking about. You might as well just get an empty room and talk to them.
“We used to play them all of the time, so it was a rivalry. But now, none of these girls have ever played Pitt, so they don’t know. I was talking to their coach before the game, and she was trying to get her girls fired up. They didn’t know anything about West Virginia.”
The Panthers committed 17 turnovers, shot 27 percent and were outrebounded 39-29 as the Mountaineers extended their series win streak to four games.
Muldrow sank a pair of 3-pointers to begin the game and WVU scored the first 12 points before leading 26-13 after one quarter.
“They play so well right from the tip,” said Pitt coach Suzie McConnell-Serio. “We talked about being ready, because they win their games in the first quarter. They take it to you.
“They put five scorers on the floor, and defensively, they are physical and they’re aggressive. You can see why they are the No. 10 team in the country.”
After Pitt used a 10-0 run in the second period to close within six, West Virginia took a 36-23 cushion into the half.
Yacine Diop led the Panthers with 18 points.