MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia nearly squandered a 17-point first half lead but held off several late Cornell runs to defeat the Big Red 68-62 in the Mountaineers’ final game before the start of Big 12 Conference play.
‘They played harder than we did, executed better than we did,” said WVU head coach Mike Carey. “We acted like we had never seen a press before. We had a bunch of turnovers and didn’t execute.”
The Mountaineers were making their return to the Coliseum after five weeks without a true home game. They were coming off a 10-day break after collecting a pair of quality neutral court wins against No. 19 Michigan State and Syracuse in Orlando.
“I thought we were more mature,” Carey said. “I thought we had more experience than that. I wasn’t seeing this.”
“We came out flat,” said WVU junior guard Kysre Gondrezick. “We are still recovering from Christmas break, to be honest with you. But we have to get it going. We’ve got to pick it up. This was just an eye opener to show us that we have to get ready for Big 12 play.”
The Mountaineers jumped out to a 28-11 lead at the 7:18 mark of the second quarter. Cornell (6-5) trimmed the deficit to a dozen points at halftime, trailing 37-25. The Big Red crept within a single point twice in the third quarter but WVU never relinquished the lead.
Tynice Martin scored 11 of her team-high 19 points in the first quarter. Gondrezick scored 14 and Kari Niblack added 10.
Cornell was paced by Samantha Widmann’s 21-point effort.
The 19th-ranked Mountaineers conclude non-conference play with a 10-1 record and they will open league play at Kansas State Sunday.
“Hopefully it doesn’t take us that long to realize that we are going against the best,” Martin said. “We are a Power 5 school and who we play against will bring the same intensity that we do.”