Christal Caldwell scored a game-high 21 points and West Virginia’s women forced 23 turnovers to start their season with a 76-47 blowout of UNC Wilmington on Friday at the WVU Coliseum.
Caldwell shot 7-for-15 from the field and added three steals for WVU (1-0). Taylor Palmer added 13 points with three 3-pointers, all in the second half. Ayana Dunning recorded the sixth double-double of her career with 11 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
WVU led 31-21 lead at halftime and the Seahawks (0-1) never got closer than seven points in the second half.
“First half, we went up 15 and we are playing so many people, so it doesn’t surprise me that they cut in to it,”
coach Mike Carey explained. “In the second half, we went with some people a little bit longer and built the lead, but I thought it was good to get the freshmen in there and get them on the floor and let them knock the ball off each other, shoot the air balls and throw the ball away because they have to get in there and get a taste of it. Next game, they will play better and then the next game, they will play better.”
Reserve Brooke Hampton contributed seven points and five assists, while Crystal Leary pulled down seven rebounds, including six on the offensive end. WVU’s 20 offensive boards proved to help as the Mountaineers scored 17 second-chance points and dominated the paint with 32-14.
WVU outrebounded UNC Wilmington 49-36. The Mountaineers shot 39.7 percent (27-68) from the field, while the Seahawks shot 28 percent (14-50). WVU made 30.8 percent (8-26) from beyond the arc, while limiting UNCW to only 15 percent (3-20) from 3-point range.
UNC Wilmington was led by sophomore Jovana Mandic’s 10 points.
“At the end of the night, we had 14 turnovers and that is the least amount of turnovers we have had in awhile, even including last year,” Carey explained. “Give them credit. They played hard. Garrett for them is a pretty good sized player and very aggressive. We stayed out on their shooters pretty good and they only shot 3-for-20. They usually shoot pretty well. This is a team that won 20 games and have a lot of people back. Overall, I was happy, but we have a lot of work to do.”
The Mountaineers take to the road for the first time this season on Monday at Boston University.
“We have big game Monday against Boston University, which is a very good team,” Carey said. “They have won their league last year and have a three-time player of the year back, so it is going to be a tough game on Monday, but that is okay. We need to go and get in that right away.”