MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Hours after climbing to No. 9 in the AP rankings, unbeaten West Virginia used a 31-0 first-half run to put away Morgan State 84-41 on Monday night at the WVU Coliseum.
Teana Muldrow finished with 25 points and and four steals and Katrina Pardee scored 21 for the Mountaineers (11-0), who forced 25 turnovers while playing without injured forward Kristina King for the first time. King has a broken foot that will sideline her four to six weeks.
Transfer Theresa Ekhelar made her first start for West Virginia, scoring eight points and grabbing a team-high eight rebounds.
“I thought Theresa, as time went on, did a little better. She just needs playing time,” said West Virginia coach Mike Carey. “You have to understand that she hasn’t played in two years.”
Leading 12-4, WVU got back-to-back 3s from Pardee, the start of 31 unanswered points. The Bears (6-5) went scoreless for nearly 8 minutes in the second quarter and trailed 45-12 at halftime.
“Tonight was kind of like a complete breakdown early, ” said Morgan State coach Edward Davis. “We couldn’t score, and mentally, the kids lost the defensive concepts and allowed the inability to score take over not playing defense. West Virginia, being the top-10 team that they are, took advantage of our mishaps. We have to wipe this game out.”
West Virginia shot 69.2 percent in the first half, going 5-of-5 from 3-point range.
Morgan State was led by Tykyrah Williams’ 20 points.
Naomi Davenport contributed 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Mountaineers.
Carey calls out small crowds
Monday’s announced attendance of 1,034 fell short of WVU’s season average (1,379) which already ranks last in the Big 12.
While Carey thanked the “loyal fans” who turned up, he said playing in a mostly-empty Coliseum is frustrating for a top-10 team.
“That is ridiculous,” he said. “We have an RPI of 15, and we are last in attendance in the whole conference. It is just not fair to our players, it is just not fair. We moved up to No. 9 in the country, and we can’t get 1,000 people in the stands.
“I’m not blaming anybody, I’m not doing that, but it is a shame that a program of our caliber — and as many games as we have won and what we have done over the years — that we can’t get more (fans).”
Iowa State leads the league with an average home attendance of 9,767, followed by Baylor (5,709) and Texas (4,137). Kansas joins WVU as the only schools averaging fewer than 2,000 fans per home game.
“I’ll probably get in trouble for saying all of this, but to be honest with you, I don’t care,” Carey said. “Somebody has to fight for our girls. It’s not right, it’s not fair, and they deserve better.”